Man Charged With Hate Crime For Alleged Threats

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — A Lake Stevens man has been charged with a felony hate crime for allegedly posting a photo of a gun on social media and threatening to kill people of color.

Court papers say on Jan. 28, one of Benjamin Richey’s relatives, who was still a student at Marysville Pilchuck High School, had a few friends over. Documents say Richey took the phone of one of the friends without that person’s knowledge and used their Snapchat account to post a photo of himself holding a BB gun with the caption “killing minorities soon," The Daily Herald reported.

The charges say Richey, who is white, told police the post was a joke. But four Marysville Pilchuck students immediately contacted the school about the post. One student reported she believed the gun was real. She told police she felt fear because she’s a person of color. Another expressed a similar fear of harm.

Marysville Pilchuck High School was the site of a 2014 shooting in which five people were killed, including the perpetrator. Prosecutors argue that, with this history, it was reasonable to fear harm.

It wasn't immediately known if Richey has a lawyer to comment on his behalf.