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Officials mull hate charge

Man held after encounter with Hispanic residents

The Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office is considering charging a man with a hate crime in a confrontation with a Hispanic family outside their Coeur d’Alene home.

Ira G. Tankovich has been in Kootenai County Jail since Aug. 16, charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and providing false information to police in the incident, which occurred in the 1900 block of East Pennsylvania Avenue.

A Hispanic man told police Tankovich and three others were in a truck decorated with swastikas and the words “born to kill” when they stopped and approached him as he stood outside.

The resident’s yard had been littered with Aryan Nations literature and he “felt these men were Aryans and were going to hurt him,” the police report said.

Tankovich and the other men left but returned about 20 minutes later yelling racial slurs, according to the police report.

When police arrived, one of the men said “the Hispanic pulled a gun and threatened our lives,” according to the report.

Tankovich, who police say has Aryan pride tattoos, gave police a false name before they found his identification and learned he was wanted for violating his probation in California on a stolen property conviction. That conviction also prohibits him from owning a gun. According to the report, an officer saw Tankovich throw a handgun into a neighboring driveway.

Idaho’s hate crimes law makes it a felony to “intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s race, color, religion, ancestry or national origin.”

Tankovich and his friends used racial slurs throughout their interviews with police, according to reports. Each maintained the homeowner approached them unprovoked.

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh said his office is working with police to see if the law applies to the allegations against Tankovich.

“We certainly are reviewing it,” McHugh said.

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