News & Politics

Are Violent Interracial Crimes on the Rise?

A man is arrested after a fatal stabbing attack on the University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas, Monday, May 1, 2017. (Ray Arredondo via AP)

On the morning of April 18, Kori Ali Muhammad stalked the streets of downtown Fresno and fatally shot three white men with a .357 revolver:

Before surrendering to police, he allegedly shouted “Allahu akbar” and expressed hatred toward white people and the government, according to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

On social media, he referred to white people as “devils.” Earlier in the year, he released a rap album replete with violent, explicit, racially-charged lyrics, including referring to himself in one song as a “black soldier.”

Muhammad was reportedly convinced that there is a war going on between blacks and whites in America.

Is he right?

Something terrible seems to be going on out there. It used to be underneath the surface, but lately, racial resentment and hostility have been out in the open, visible in increasingly blood-curdling ways that cannot be ignored.

Most crimes are committed intra-racially, meaning both victim and perpetrator are of the same race. But in the past few years, violent interracial crimes have been increasing across the country, and race is seemingly a motivating factor.

There are crimes of passion, crimes of opportunity, and crimes of pre-meditation, but the crimes people fear most are deemed “random” — crimes which can victimize anyone, any place, any time. The following stories from just the past few weeks all seem to fall into the “random” category.

But are they?

— A white man was shot and killed in Northeast Portland on April 16 by an African-American gunman. The man, identified Sunday as 38-year-old Larry Edwin Van Dolah Jr. of St. Helens, was found near Menlo Park Elementary School. Medics pronounced him dead at the scene. The Oregon State Medical Examiner said he died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Portland police said three suspects were last seen running southbound on 128th Avenue, crossing East Burnside Street. They were described as African-American males, ages 16 to 20 years old, wearing hooded sweatshirts and blue jeans.

There is no known motive for the murder.

— Trent Stutheit, a 29-year-old father, was shot to death in a parking lot in Omaha on Easter Sunday. Antoine C. Johnson, a 30-year-old black man, was accused of committing the murder, which appeared to be random.

Omaha police are still investigating what led up to the gunfire. Family members say they can’t wrap their heads around why somebody would take Stutheit’s life.

— On April 19, a trio of black hoodlums assaulted a Des Moines woman on a DART bus.

Security footage shows three young men slapping Tina Gravitt over and over again. “As they ran off and they were laughing,” Gravitt said. “It was really shocking.” Gravitt said the alleged assault came out of nowhere.

— On the morning of April 20, two white utility workers were shot to death while working in a residential area in St. Louis.

The shooter, who later turned the gun on himself, was identified as Clinton Willis, a 51-year-old black man with a long criminal history.

There was no known motive for the murders.

— On April 21 in Des Moines, a Burmese-American immigrant was shot down in his car in front of his three children.

Stephen Kim, 41, of Des Moines, was killed after an attempted robbery went wrong while he was waiting in his car for his wife, who was carpooling to meet him after work. He was killed while his three sons — all under the age of nine — were sitting in the back seat.

— Nathaniel Ewing, a 20-year-old sophomore at OU, was gunned down on April 23 in the parking lot of the apartment complex outside the campus.

Ewing suffered a gunshot wound to his abdomen and died at a local hospital the following day — which happened to be his birthday:

Police arrested 20-year-old Tyrek Ladarius Turner, 19-year-old Armani Ashanti Morgan and two unnamed 17-year-old males on a complaint of first degree murder.

Witnesses said he and another person were the targets of an attempted robbery at the complex.

— On April 24, a brave 94-year-old woman was left battered and bruised after fighting off a group of black thugs who snatched her purse at a Miami mall.

“Aside from my credit cards and jewelry and a cell phone, it has my Stirling silver rosary,” she explained. “You can replace the other items but you can not replace that. I am very emotional and sentimental about that.”

Authorities say the suspects snatched a purse from a 60-year-old woman at the same mall earlier.

Johnson is not letting this incident from stopping her from living her life, as she plans to keep driving her car for shopping trips.

‘I’m bruised but I’m okay,’ she said. ‘I have cuts and bruises in my lip and the area near some teeth feels bruised. And I am cut and bruised all over my arm and it goes to my thumb.’

She added that she would fight back again if she had to.

— On the morning of April 26, two elderly woman were out for a morning walk on a Sacramento area high school track, when an 18-year-old black man brutally attacked them, killing one and injuring the other.

Fusako Petrus lived in North Highlands and was out for a morning walk Wednesday with her 61-year-old friend when a man, identified as Butler, walked up to the pair and sexually assaulted them and beat them with his hands and feet, Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies said.

Petrus, 86, was pronounced dead at the scene. The suspect, Neven Glen Butler, was arrested several hours later after he assaulted a 92-year-old woman at a healthcare center. That victim suffered facial injuries and was taken to a hospital.

Were all these crimes random?

Maybe not. A study at Vanderbilt University found that the elderly victim of rape “was more often white and the assailant more often black,” and “the rapists are motivated by anger, possibly racially related.”

— Monday morning, a gunman fired on paramedics in East Dallas, hitting and critically injuring a firefighter.

WFAA’s Rebecca Lopez learned that a bullet broke the firefighter’s leg, and he went into surgery as doctors tried to save it.

He has lost a lot of blood, Lopez reported, and “coded three times.” This means his heart stopped, CPR was given, and he was resuscitated.

The suspect and another man were found dead inside a home Dallas Police searched after the shooting. The suspect was a black male with a long rap sheet who once led the local Black Panthers.

— Multiple people were stabbed at the University of Texas at Austin Monday afternoon, leaving one person is dead on scene and three other victims transported to the hospital.

UT Austin Police Chief David Carter said the suspect, Kendrix J. White, “was armed with a hunting knife, but he offered no information about a possible motive.”

On Sunday afternoon, a white man opened fire on seven people at a pool party, killing one.

The suspect, Peter Selis, 49, shot four black women, two black men, and one Latino man at a birthday party where witnesses said a gunman never left his poolside chair:

“We could see the shooter sitting there with a beer in one hand and a gun in the other,” the witness, who was not identified, told the station.

Selis was said to be despondent over a breakup with a girlfriend. So he started shooting only black and Hispanic people at the pool?

San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said that race was not a factor in a shooting.

I wouldn’t be too sure about that.

Something terrible appears to be going on that may not be quite as random as we think. Maybe it’s time we have a serious national conversation about it.