A former reserve sheriff’s deputy is facing hate crime charges after telling Louisiana authorities that he plowed his pickup truck into a convenience store because he thought its Sikh owners were Muslim.
Chad Horsley, 27, was arrested Monday and charged with one count each of hate crimes, simple criminal damage to property, and criminal mischief, and two counts of false impersonation of a peace officer. He was later released on $56,000 bond, the Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper reports.
Harjot Singh, a nephew of the store owner who works as a cashier there, told the Advocate that attacking anyone for their religious identity isn’t acceptable.
“Even if it was Muslims, he shouldn’t have done that thing,” said Singh, who immigrated to the U.S. from India two years ago. “We’re just trying to make a living out of here, that’s all we’re doing.”
A piece of plywood now covers what was formerly a plate glass window at the store. The damage is estimated at around $4,000, according to local station WAFB TV.
Even if it was Muslims, he shouldn’t have done that thing. We’re just trying to make a living out of here, that’s all we’re doing.Harjot Singh
Horsley joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 2014, but was honorably discharged in December because of liver disease, according to the New York Daily News.
Before that, starting in 2010, he served for six years as a deputy in nearby East Baton Rouge Parish in both a full-time and reserve capacity.
“He blamed Muslims for killing his fellow service members overseas,” Sheriff Jason Ard said in a Facebook post on Monday. “He was also upset that Muslims, in his mind, were having an easier time prospering than he was despite his time in the service.”
It was allegedly Horsley himself who reported the crash to police, claiming to be a witness who tried to intervene until the driver of the truck pulled a gun on him.
Investigators also allege that Horsley had been in the store a week before the incident and falsely claimed he worked for a sheriff’s office. He reportedly told the on-duty cashier that he was suspected of dealing drugs from the store, according to The Washington Post. He also allegedly said he would be back around midnight to search the store, and to “make sure no one was around.”
Horsley’s father, Samuel Horsley, told the New York Daily News he doesn’t believe the alleged act was motivated by hatred. Instead, he said, his son “must’ve just snapped.”
“I’m in shock because that’s not my son,” he said. “He’s about as far from a racist as they come. I did not raise my kids that way [but] taught them to always look at people in their heart.”
America does not do a good job of tracking incidents of hate and bias. We need your help to create a database of such incidents across the country, so we all know what’s going on. Tell us your story.