A former reserve sheriff’s deputy in Louisiana’s Livingston Parish is facing hate crime charges after telling authorities that he plowed his pickup truck into a convenience store because he thought its Sikh owners were Muslim.
Chad Horsley, 27, is accused of several recent offenses all involving a convenience store on La. 1019, reported The Advocate.
Deputies identified Horsley as the suspect and questioned him about his actions. Sheriff Jason Ard said Horsley’s account did not match surveillance footage and witness statements. Horsley admitted to investigators that he purposefully caused damage to the store.
Sikhs are often mistaken as Muslims, according to the several surveys done by the Department of Justice and confirmed by the South Asian American Leading Together (SAALT).
Harjot Singh, a nephew of the store owner who works as a cashier there, told the Advocate that attacking anyone for their religious identity isn’t acceptable.
“Even if it was Muslims, he shouldn’t have done that thing,” said Singh, who immigrated to the U.S. from India two years ago. “We’re just trying to make a living out of here, that’s all we’re doing.”
According to India West, Horsley is also accused of impersonating an officer. He’s accused of entering the same store five nights earlier, accusing the store clerk of selling drugs. He warned the clerk he would be back. Five days later, he did return. Witnesses said he drove the truck into the store, stole the ATM machine, and when others tried to stop him, they say he pulled out a gun and fled.
Horsley joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 2014, but was honorably discharged in December because of liver disease, according to the New York Daily News.
Before that, starting in 2010, he served for six years as a deputy in nearby East Baton Rouge Parish in both a full-time and reserve capacity.
Stephen Horsley said his son was honorably discharged from the military in December 2017 after he was diagnosed with liver disease and needed to receive treatment. He started working for a crane operating company most recently.
Family members had noticed that Chad Horsely was more distant than usual the past few months. But his dad said they never could have predicted anything close to the recent allegations. He also noted that his son has no history of mental health diagnoses or treatment.
“I’m in shock because that’s not my son,” Samuel Horsley said, his voice choking up over the phone. “He’s about as far from a racist as they come. I did not raise my kids that way (but) taught them to always look at people in their heart. … He wasn’t in his right mind. He must’ve just snapped.”
(AsAmNews contributed to this report)
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