A Texas man on vacation in the Florida panhandle this week is facing a hate crime charge after he allegedly physically assaulted a family of Asian descent and used racist language, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) announced Friday.
According to the sheriff’s office, witnesses said that 54-year-old tourist Wade Anton told an Asian woman and her children to “go back where they came from” and uttered a racial slur during a verbal altercation that took place Thursday afternoon at Beasley Park on Okaloosa Island. A news release posted to the sheriff’s office official Facebook page said that Anton had been charged with “a hate crime related battery.”
OCSO News Release:
A Texas tourist who witnesses say made racial slurs towards another visitor at Beasley Park on…
Anton reportedly told sheriff’s office deputies that the altercation began because the woman’s children were petting his dog. According to this story, Anton said that he told the children to leave his dogs along but they ignored him. That’s when things escalated.
The woman’s husband told the sheriff’s office that Anton was approximately 25 feet away from his family when the verbal argument began, but then Anton “ran around the park railings and began punching [the husband] repeatedly.”
The woman’s husband also told deputies that as Anton was running towards him, he “pulled out a handgun to protect himself.”
The two men were then separated by witnesses without anyone sustaining any serious injuries.
The Okaloosa Department of Corrections told local ABC News-affiliate WEAR-TV that Anton was taken into custody and was being held on $10,000 bond as he awaited a preliminary hearing before a judge. Jail records show that Anton was released at 3:50 p.m. on Friday.
[image via Okaloosa Department of Corrections]
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