An Antelope Valley skinhead has been indicted on hate-crime charges in machete and baseball-bat assaults targeting African Americans, federal officials announced Thursday.
A federal arrest warrant was issued for Danny Edward Williams, 23, of Lancaster, who FBI agents believe is a fugitive. Agents said he may be growing his shaved hair to elude capture.
Williams originally was arrested with two 16-year-olds in connection with a machete attack in July that is believed to have been racially motivated. But, while Los Angeles County prosecutors filed charges in Sylmar Juvenile Court against the younger defendants, they said there was not enough evidence to charge Williams.
The indictment by a federal grand jury charges Williams with conspiracy to deprive African Americans of their civil rights and with two counts of intimidating, injuring or interfering with African Americans on public streets.
Announcing the indictments at a news conference Thursday afternoon, U.S. Atty. Nora Manella was joined by Assistant Atty. Gen. Deval L. Patrick of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C. They described the case as tailor-made for a federal civil rights prosecution.
"This is the latest example of the federal government's commitment to ensure all the citizens of Southern California the right to use the public streets without interference, harassment or intimidation based on their race," Manella said.
She added that investigations of alleged civil rights violations in the Antelope Valley are continuing.
According to the indictment, Williams and others drove the streets of Lancaster, looking for black people to taunt and beat. They shouted "white power" slogans, flashed skinhead signs and Nazi salutes and made racially derogatory remarks to African Americans.
The indictment cited two violent attacks--an April 28 baseball-bat beating of an African American outside a Blockbuster video store and the July 8 machete attack.
That incident was widely publicized. According to deputies, Williams and the teens shouted "White power!" as they drove past Marcus Cotton and Angela McKenzie, two cousins who were walking home in Lancaster. The assailants slashed Cotton, 16, with a machete, leaving deep cuts on his arms and shoulder. They spit on McKenzie, 17, and berated the cousins with racial slurs.
Earlier, according to the indictment, Williams was involved in an April 28 incident in which someone described as "a co-conspirator known to the grand jury" approached Eric Miller outside a video store in Lancaster and addressed him with a racial slur and announced, "It's all about white power."
Williams repeatedly struck Miller with the baseball bat while others punched and kicked him, the indictment said.
The recent rash of hate crimes has drawn scrutiny from state and federal investigators and the county's Human Relations Commission. Community groups have responded by creating a task force and setting up a hate-crime hotline. Federal authorities would not comment on whether Williams was believed to be part of any organized white-supremacist group. They said he and others were loosely associated with a group of skinheads who call themselves, among other names, the Nazi Lowriders.
John Spillane, head deputy of the county district attorney's Antelope Valley office, said he was unfamiliar with that name. He said the number of skinheads in the Antelope Valley has been estimated at between 30 and 100, most of them affiliated with a group called the Skinhead Nazis.
Williams is described as 5-foot-9 with blond hair and green eyes. He weighs 180 pounds and has swastikas tattooed on his right hand between his thumb and forefinger. He also has a hooded Ku Klux Klan figure tattooed on his left shoulder. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the FBI in Lancaster or Westwood.