Michigan family believes their home was a hate crime target
Two men and a woman, all white, are now in custody
A Michigan family believes they were targeted for being Black when three white people attempted to break into their home and commit violent crimes.
According to Click On Detroit, on April 26, a woman and her two children, ages nine and 13, were at home. The 13-year-old was awakened by a commotion outside and woke up the 9-year-old. Their mother quickly entered their room, armed with a gun to protect her family from the disturbance outside, firing shots through the bedroom window.
The father was at work in Detroit and immediately left once his wife called during the incident. The family is Black and believes their race played a factor in the attack.
“I can hear everything, them kicking and banging down the door, whatever they were doing,” the husband said, according to the outlet. He remained on the phone as he quickly traveled home. “I can hear the guy saying, ‘I’m going to kill you.’ The n-word and all that.”
“It was a hate crime,” the husband continued. “They knew that we were a Black family. I’m always on my motorcycle.” He added “My wife did what she had to do,” according to Click On Detroit. “When you have kids you do what you gotta do.”
Two white men and one white woman are currently in the Oakland County Jail for their involvement in the crime. According to the report, the trio was armed with dogs, a knife, and a bat while committing the crime. The Detroit News reported all three people have been charged with home invasion or aiding and abetting home invasion, and ethnic intimidation.
The invaders were identified as Branden Odegaard, Michael Graves and Maci Pietryga. According to investigators, they “threatened to kill the occupants, including two children.” The suspects were located near the scene after the family called 911.
Odegaard, 37, and Graves, 47, were also charged with first-degree home invasion, a felony punishable by up to 20 years and $5,000. Pietryga, 26, was also charged with first-degree aiding and abetting home invasion, a felony punishable by up to 20 years and $5,000.
“I want to be very clear that I have zero tolerance for hate crimes,” said Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald, according to Detroit News. “Hate has no place here in Oakland County, and I will do everything in my power to hold those who attempt to threaten or harm our residents accountable.”
McDonald recently marked her first 100 days in office and introduced new policies, including a new hate crimes unit.
“In the 100 days since I was sworn in, I have re-oriented my office’s priorities to focus on juvenile justice, reducing racial disparities, and alternatives to incarceration for low-level, non-violent crimes. I am committed to implementing smarter solutions to achieve safer, more just communities for everyone in Oakland County,” said McDonald.
According to the statement, the first-ever hate crimes unit will allocate crucial resources for the specific purpose of charging and prosecuting hate crimes and ethnic intimidation.
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