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Two individuals from South Carolina have been formally accused by a grand jury of committing hate crimes at the federal level. These crimes were allegedly a series of robberies specifically targeting victims of Hispanic descent.
Charles Antonio Clippard, 26, and Michael Joseph Knox, 28, from Columbia, have been charged with planning and executing multiple robberies at various public establishments, such as gas stations and supermarkets.
On Monday, a federal jury in Columbia returned an indictment against the accused individuals for three hate crimes, one conspiracy, one carjacking, and three firearms violations. It is alleged that they held the victims at gunpoint and took money, cellphones, and a car.
According to the Justice Department, Mr. Clippard and Mr. Knox specifically chose four victims of Mexican or Hispanic descent based on their racial and ethnic background. At least one of the robberies resulted in physical harm.
As stated in the accusation, the individuals committed three thefts from January 2021 to February of the same year.
On January 22, 2021, the initial assault occurred at the “El Mariachi” grocery store.
Mr. Clippard and Mr. Knox are accused of pursuing two individuals who left the grocery store in a car with another person driving. The alleged perpetrators reportedly took money and a cell phone when the victims got out of the car to go into their house.
The prosecutors allege that after eight days, the suspects and their fellow conspirators executed a comparable assault at a Spinx gas station and trailed the victim to their home. During this incident, the victim’s passport, money, car keys, and vehicle were stolen.
On that day, a third robbery took place as the victim was pursued from a Marathon gas station to their home. The victim was forcefully entered into their home, and other people inside were also robbed while being threatened with a gun.
The individuals could potentially serve at least 21 years in prison for their firearm-related offenses, and the hate crime accusation could result in a maximum sentence of 10 years.
If found guilty of carjacking, they may face a 15-year prison sentence.
The FBI Columbia Field Office collaborated with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and local law enforcement in the investigation.