Two men in South Carolina were formally charged with federal hate crimes for attacking and robbing Hispanic shoppers who were visiting a Mexican grocery store.
Charles Antonio Clippard, 26, and Michael Joseph Knox, 28, are accused of forcibly taking cash, cellphones and, in one case, a car after following buyers to their homes and holding them. at gunpoint in 2021, according to a federal grand jury indictment returned Monday.
Columbia Area Men they intentionally targeted victims they identified as Mexican or HispanicThe US Department of Justice said in a press release.
“The indictment alleges that the defendants committed three armed robberies as part of the conspiracy, including a carjacking, because of the victims’ race and national origin and because those individuals were using places of public accommodation,” according to the Justice Department.
Clippard and Knox attacked and robbed at least four people, identified in the grand jury indictment as John Doe 1, John Doe 2, John Doe 3 and John Doe 4, although the filing alleges they also did the same to “others due to their race or national origin.
In at least one case, the alleged crimes of Clippard and Knox resulted in bodily injuriesaccording to the cited accusation.
The two men were each charged with three counts of hate crimes, three counts of firearms crimes, one count of carjacking and one count of conspiracy.
Gun crimes require a minimum of 21 years in prison, while each hate crime charge carries up to 10 years in prison and auto theft up to 15 years.
The federal investigators in Columbia They are investigating the case along with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and local police.