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Dudes Who Shot Up Black Lives Matter Crowd Not Quite Racist Enough For Hate Crimes Charge
Lance Scarsella has a tiny gun, and also a derringer
[contextly_sidebar id="b9WNRPBf5IHFiwSIN0aHvE9uslbWQJtV"]We are learning ever so many charming things about the four dudebros arrested for the shooting attack on five people attending a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis last week. For one thing, we have learned alleged shooter Allen “Lance” Scarsella III fancied himself quite the Second Amendment hero, with lots of photos on his phone of himself posing with camo-n-guns. Scarsella, 23, is believed to be the passenger, "Black Powder Ranger," in that video showing two morons on their way to harass the BLM camp outside a Minneapolis police station on Nov. 20, a few days prior to the shooting.
Scarsella is charged with five counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and a single count of "second-degree riot while armed." Also facing riot charges are his idiot friends: Nathan Gustavsson, 21; Daniel Macey, 26; and Joseph M. Backman, 27. The guy in the video who calls himself "SaigaMarine" was apparently questioned but not charged.
What else have we learned? The criminal complaint in the case indicates Scarsella and his pals were looking forward to creating some hilarious mischief with The Blacks:
There were numerous texts between Scarsella, Backman, and Nathan Wayne Gustavsson...setting up plans for going back to the protests on November 23, 2015. Gustavsson texts "If this shits going down on Monday we need to get out there I could rile up so much shit up." [sic] Gustavsson also texts "I know how to make big news or get them to disperse" and "I have an idea to really stir shit up."
But for all their tough-guy posturing in texts, on the video, and on 4chan, Scarsella and his co-defendants turned out to be macho weenies who got quite panicky after Scarsella fired eight shots into the crowd, wounding five people, none of them fatally, thank god. (Remember that example of Tough Guy marksmanship when gun-fondlers assure you that if they'd been at whatever next mass shooting happens, they'd have taken the bad guy out, no problem.) Following the shooting, Scarsella and company didn't head for a safe house or bunker to prepare for the inevitable race war their brave actions would no doubt provoke. Nope. Scarsella called his girlfriend (identified as "A.M." in the complaint) and asked her to hide all his guns and ammo for him, while he and his pals freaked out:
A.M. told police that Scarsella is her boyfriend but they do not live together. He texted her on November 23, 2015, at around 9: 20 p.rn., and told her he was going out with friends. He called and woke her up at 1:30 a.m. the next morning and was panicking. He said he had been at the BLM protest and he shot 5 people. He told her to come to his residence and take his guns and ammunition away. When she got there three other men were present. She recognized Backman. She identified one of the others as Gustavsson and told police she knows he carries guns. The other man was [Daniel Macey,] a short Asian male who lives in Pine City, Minnesota. ... A.M. said the four men were panicking about the shooting and trying to decide what to do. Several of them were talking on the phone with lawyers. The other three men left before the police arrived.
Scarsella eventually ended up phoning an old high school friend who works as a police officer in Mankato, Minnesota; the Mankato cop advised Scarsella to turn himself and his guns in, and later told Minneapolis police Scarsella " sounded very frightened on the phone." Scarsella's cop friend also let the Minneapolis police know Scarsella was a real tool:
The officer was aware that Scarsella owned and carried guns and that he had very intense opinions, which the officer described as being a Sovereign Citizen and pro-Constitution. He knew that Scarsella had negative experiences with and opinions about African Americans.
When the police arrested Scarsella, they found a .45 automatic that matched shell casings found at the shooting scene and his phone, with all the incriminating texts, all the fun gun photos, “some racist images,” and pics of him and his compatriots in camouflage, presumably making their War Faces. Strangely, despite his alleged Sovereign Citizen leanings, Scarsella does not yet appear to have claimed he can't be arrested because he doesn't recognize the legitimacy of the United States or Minnesota governments. We'll have to see how he reacts to seeing a flag with gold fringe.
Surprisingly, despite all the racial animus shot through the video, the 4chan messages, and the texts specifically looking forward to stirring up some shit with the BLM protesters, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman elected to charge the men only with the assault and riot charges, explaining to the StarTribune:
he has no doubt that the shooting was racially motivated but added that the evidence “didn’t reach the threshold for charging” any of the men with a hate crime.
Macey is of Asian descent. The others are white. The four suspects appear to have become acquainted in school and at meetups through “/k/,” a popular weapons-related message board with racist overtones on the website 4chan.
NPR reports Freeman said hate crimes charges wouldn't add "one iota of time" to the defendants' potential sentences. He added:
The feds have got some different statutes. ... My review of this file, including the video and the statements, it certainly has components of [a hate crime.]
What Freeman could have added, if he hadn't been busy sounding like a Tough On Crime prosecutor, is that Minnesota has weird-ass hate crimes laws. Essentially, they enhance an existing charge to make it a more serious level of crime, increasing a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor to a felony. Since the four boneheads were already charged with felonies, adding a hate crime charge wouldn't "enhance" anything. The real question is why Lance Scarsella was only charged with assault, and not second-degree attempted murder, because FIRING A GUN INTO A CROWD EIGHT TIMES AND HITTING FIVE PEOPLE WHAT THE FUCK. As a lawyer might put it.
So yes, the question of hate crimes will be left to the feds. They might find some evidence that the guys who couldn't stop talking about race and the need to "stay white" just may have committed a hate crime, somehow.