Florida man arrested for smashing car with pipe in ‘racially prejudiced attack’ on three teens, officials say

Investigators said Richard Burnham, 58, used racial slurs against a group of teens as he smashed their vehicle with a pipe outside a Florida gas station earlier this month.

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A Florida man is facing enhanced hate crime charges for an “unprovoked, racially prejudiced attack” involving three high school students that took place at a gas station near the Orlando metro area earlier this month, according to local law enforcement.

Investigators said Richard Burnham, 58, of Deland, Florida used racial slurs as he confronted the group of teens and smashed their vehicle with a pipe, as theGrio reported previously. The attack shattered the vehicle’s passenger side window while the teens were sitting inside it, authorities said.

A screenshot of Volusia County Sheriff Office deputies arresting Richard Burnham, 58, on Jan. 26, 2022. (Credit: Volusia County Sheriff Office)
Investigators say Burnham used a pipe to shatter the passenger side window of a vehicle while a group of teens were sitting inside on Jan. 22, 2022. (Credit: Volusia County Sheriff’s Office)

All three of Burnham’s alleged victims were males between the ages of 17 and 18, according to county sheriff officials. Two of the victims were Black, the sheriff’s office said.

“The charges were enhanced as a hate crime due to Burnham’s use of racial slurs during the unprovoked attack,” the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement released Thursday.

The alleged victims called 911 around 3 p.m. on Jan. 22 after they said Burnham “became hostile and aggressive towards them,” while they were pumping gas at a Circle K gas station near Osteen, Florida.

“The front passenger window was shattered and the passenger door panels were dented before the victims were able to drive away,” the sheriff’s office said.

It’s unclear what exactly set off Burnham before his alleged attack.

Mugshot photo of Richard Burnham, 58, of Deland, Fla. (Credit: Volusia County Jail)
Authorities say this screenshot of gas station surveillance camera footage shows a man accused of attacking a group of teens with a pipe on Jan. 22, 2022. (Credit: Volusia County Sheriff’s Office)

The victims told investigators Burnham followed them in his truck for about two miles before abandoning his chase.

“They were able to provide a detailed description of the suspect, his truck and the trailer it was pulling with two four-wheelers on it,” the sheriff’s office said.

Store surveillance footage showed a man matching Burnham’s description purchasing a case of beer around the time of the alleged attack. Investigators said Burnham admitted getting into a “verbal altercation” with the three teens when detectives interviewed him about the incident on Wednesday.

He was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of criminal mischief before being released on a total bond of $40,000, Volusia County Jail records show.

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