Bremerton, Washington Man Charged with Anti-Gay Hate Crime for Assault on Seattle’s Capitol Hill
Defendant Screamed Homophobic Slurs while Chasing Gay Men with a Knife
A 38-year-old Bremerton, Washington man was charged today with a federal hate crime under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, for a January 2015 assault on three gay men, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. TROY DEACON BURNS, was transferred from state custody today for his initial appearance on the federal charge in U.S. District Court in Seattle at 2:00 p.m.
“When he signed the Shephard/Byrd Hate crimes prevention act into law, President Obama said ‘no one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love.’ It is just that sort of fear this defendant engendered with his attack,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “This federal prosecution demonstrates our commitment to protecting all the residents in our district from bias motivated attacks.”
According to the criminal complaint, just after midnight on January 25, 2015 three gay men were walking on East Pike Street toward Broadway in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood when BURNS came up behind them and shouted homophobic slurs. BURNS was holding a knife, which he raised up over his head in a stabbing position. Fearing for their safety the men started running. As BURNS caught up to one of the men he again used a slur as he threatened to stab him. One of the other men was able to pull his friend away from BURNS. The third man located Seattle Police Officers who took BURNS into custody. While detained in the patrol car, BURNS continued to yell homophobic slurs.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Commission of a hate crime is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the Seattle Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bruce Miyake and Saeed Mody, Trial Attorney, Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is providing significant assistance with the case.