Skip to main content
Press Release

Florida Man Indicted for Hate Crime in Murder of Black Man in Kansas City, Missouri

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A Florida man was charged with a federal hate crime today for a murder he committed while staying in the Kansas City, Missouri, area.

Sean Walter Tonkin, 36, who was staying at a local motel at the time of the alleged offense, was charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City with committing a racially-motivated hate crime resulting in death.

The indictment alleges that Tonkin, armed with a knife with knuckles, approached a Black man, J.M.R., on July 4. Unprovoked, Tonkin allegedly directed racial epithets and threats toward J.M.R. and ultimately stabbed him twice in the chest and abdomen, resulting in J.M.R.’s death. The indictment alleges that Tonkin attacked J.M.R. because of his race.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Teresa A. Moore for the Western District of Missouri and Special Agent in Charge Stephen A. Cyrus of the FBI Kansas City Field Office made the announcement.

The FBI Kansas City Field Office is investigating the case.

Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney David Ketchmark for the Western District of Missouri and Trial Attorney Eric Peffley of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated December 20, 2023

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 23-1464