Update: Surveillance video of the vehicle is at the end of the post.
Since it’s been all over the news since last night, most folks probably now know about the three assaults on African-American and Latino men in Leesburg. The perpetrator, assumed to be a serial killer recently operating in Flint, Michigan, is a white male, approximately 6’0′ tall, with an athletic build. The victims have been almost exclusively African-American men who are either older or slightly built, and are usually attacked from behind. Two of the Leesburg victims were stabbed in the back without warning. There are now 16 confirmed victims in Flint, five of whom have died from their injuries, and another stabbing victim in Toledo, Ohio, just confirmed at this afternoon’s press conference.
To the credit of the Leesburg police, detectives quickly saw the pattern and connected the Leesburg cases to Flint. I’m also glad to see that they are working with the FBI’s domestic terrorism unit. It’s important to call things by their proper names, and this is terrorism. It’s not random, and it’s not “the same as any other crime.” Hate crime, or terrorism, doesn’t only target the individual victim of an attack, but the entire community of whom that individual is a member. It does psychological, emotional and spiritual violence to every member of that community. Motivation matters. If you still think that hate crime is and should be treated like “any other crime,” you should have been with leaders of the African-American community last night and been helped to understand what it feels like to be singled out for violence because of who you are. It feels like open season, that there is a target on your back, or your son’s back, or your husband’s.
The detail that helped detectives make the connection is the vehicle driven by the perpetrator:
The car is described as a Chevy S10 Blazer between a 1995 and early 2000’s model. The vehicle is dark green with light tan panels on the side and has no front tags or inspection or tax stickers in the front windshield.
Due to confirmation of the Toledo stabbing police believe the perpetrator is no longer in the Leesburg area, but urged the community to remain on the alert. It seems unlikely that he came here at random, with no connection to the area. Someone knows something, so please continue to disseminate this information.
Rev. Reginald Early, President of the Loudoun Branch of the NAACP, is away on a church mission trip. He was reached by the Leesburg Today, and told them that there is both alarm and sadness in the community.
“It is sadness for the victims, sadness for their families and sadness for the man,” Early said. “Why would anyone want to hurt somebody simply because of the color of their skin? It saddens me that in the 21st century things like this would happen; especially with all the changes we have seen-with the recent election of the first African-American president.”
Early said in recent years there have been some incidents of racially motivated actions, such as the placement of nooses, which is evocative of the lynchings that took place during decades past.
“But there has been nothing of this magnitude where someone has been hurt,” he said.
“We have to once again put up guard, be on the alert and be aware of possible danger just because of the color of our skin.”