A father and son in Salt Lake City, Utah, were brutally beaten with a metal pole outside of their tire shop by 50-year-old Alan Dale Covington because of their ethnicity, USA Today reports.
Covington, who is Black, reportedly asked 18-year-old Luis Lopez if he was Mexican and if he belonged to a gang called the Mexican Mafia before striking him. Lopez's father, 51-year-old Jose Lopez immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico four years ago. Jose heard the attack from inside his shop and tried to protect his son. The father's arm was injured, while Luis suffered severe head trauma.
During the attack, Covington allegedly shouted he wanted to "kill a Mexican" and told the Lopezes, "I hate Mexicans."
Covington now faces four aggravated assault counts as well as weapons and drugs charges. However, because none are misdemeanor charges, he cannot be tried for hate crimes. Utah law stipulates only misdemeanors can be converted into hate crime charges.
Salt Lake City police believe the attack may have been drug-fueled. Covington was found with heroin on his person.
“He wasn’t really based in reality," Salt Lake City Detective Greg Wilking told The Salt Lake Tribune. “We don’t want to ignore a hate crime if it’s a hate crime, but we don’t want to make it a hate crime if there’s not that aspect of it.”
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to cover the father and son's medical bills. Lopez’s other child, Veronica Lopez, started the page and described the extent of her brother's injuries on it:
"My brother's right side of his face was shattered; he had a three-hour surgery to place a titanium plate from the right side of his face to his nose to be able to attach the bones and keep his eyeball in place and a plate under that," she wrote. "We are asking for your help through this difficult time, being that my brother nor dad have any health insurance."
Since the attack, the family has raised $64,330, surpassing their original $20,000 goal.
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