Mass. Man Charged with Hate Crimes for Allegedly Trying Running Down Group of Black Kids with Truck
A 36-year-old man is facing hate crime and assault charges in Massachusetts, where authorities allege he steered his truck toward a group of Black children while yelling racial slurs, PEOPLE confirms.
According to a Holbrook police statement, Shane Belleville was arrested late last week on multiple counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, civil rights violations and assault with intent to intimidate based on race for his alleged actions on April 10.
On that afternoon, police were dispatched to the playground at a nearby middle school, "after a juvenile called and said that a man in a red pickup truck tried to run the caller and a group of friends over."
The statement notes that, through interviews with numerous witnesses and after reviewing video surveillance footage of what happened, police determined the incident started "as a verbal argument between two 7- and-8-year-old children, one Black and one white."
The substance of the argument is not addressed in the statement.
As the argument escalated, "other juveniles in the area," ranging in age from 9- to 15-years-old, "joined the confrontation." The fight continued; "racial epithets" were flung and "the altercation became physical, though no serious injuries were reported."
One of the youths called an adult relative, the statement explains. That relative was Belleville.
"By the time Belleville arrived, the fighting had stopped and the groups had separated," reads the statement. "A group of juveniles was walking down a paved path away from the school when Belleville allegedly drove his red Ford F-350 pickup truck onto the path and confronted the group of all Black children."
At that point, Belleville and the juveniles "began yelling back and forth at one another."
The statement continues: "During the argument, a teenage girl allegedly spat on Belleville and Belleville responded by allegedly slapping her in the face, the investigation determined."
More words were exchanged, and eventually, Belleville allegedly got into his truck, and shifted it into reverse.
The statement alleges Belleville yelled more racial slurs at the children as the truck reversed.
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"The juveniles had to quickly get out of the way to avoid being hit," the statement reads.
In addition to the 12 counts he faces, Belleville was charged with one count of assault and battery for the alleged slap.
Belleville posted bail for his release. PEOPLE was unable to reach him or his attorney for comment Wednesday.
He has yet to enter pleas to the charges.