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May 31, 2013 at 5:33 PM

5 accused of hate crime for attack on black man on Capitol Hill

Five men remain in King County Jail on investigation of malicious harrassment, the state’s hate-crime statute, after probable cause was found earlier this week that they beat a man on Capitol Hill in an unprovoked attack that was apparently prompted by the alleged victim’s race and sexual orientation.

The suspects are all white males with out-of-state home addresses, according to court documents. They are accused of beating a 20-year-old black man with their fists, feet and a skateboard, according to Seattle police.

They are:

Trey Amberson, 22, of Trustville, Ala., and Justin Echols, 22, of West Palm Beach, Fla., both being held in lieu of $10,000 bail.

Aaron Nelson, 21, of Gaston, Ore. His bail was set at $15,000 at his first court appearance Thursday, but Nelson is being held without bail for failing to appear in a Walla Walla court on a fourth-degree assault charge, jail records show.

William Berger, 21, of Davie, Fla., and Zachary Kocikhill, 21, of La Mesa, Calif., are each being held in lieu of $5,000 bail.

A doorman working at the Comet Tavern in the 900 block of East Pike Street flagged down a Seattle police patrol car around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday and told an officer that he had witnessed a group of men beating the victim while yelling racial and homophobic slurs, according to the probable-cause statement outlining the police case against the five suspects. The doorman, who pointed out the suspects as they sat on a sidewalk near the bar, said the group had also yelled similar ephitets at other passersby, the statement says.

The doorman, 31, told police the 20-year-old victim was walking east on Pike Street when he got into a verbal exchange with the five suspects, according to the statement. The alleged victim continued walking when “the group jumped up and began to beat” the man with “closed fists, kicks and a skateboard,” it says. The doorman told the officer the alleged victim “did a good job fighting back and breaking away from the group,” running west on Pike Street, the statement says.

As two officers contacted the suspects, the alleged victim walked up, bleeding from the mouth, according to the statement. The officers ordered the suspects on the ground and all five initially complied before Echols allegedly jumped up without warning and ran west on Pike Street, the statement says. Echols was again taken into custody following a brief foot chase, it says.

The arresting officers found a 6-inch fixed blade knife in one suspect’s waistband; a second suspect had a 4-inch fixed blade knife and a glass meth pipe, police spokeswoman Renee Witt wrote in an item posted on the department’s online blotter.

“The victim stated that he did not know the suspects or why they attacked him,” Witt wrote of the 20-year-old, who was taken to Harborview Medical Center to be treated for his injuries.

The deadline for filing formal charges is Monday, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.


Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: assault, malicious harassment, Seattle Police Department


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