SEATAC – A Lynnwood, Washington, man was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday after allegedly calling a New York grocery store and threatening to shoot Black customers.
Joey David George, 37, was indicted on charges of a hate crime and four counts of interstate threats, according to U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.
Prosecutors say George called a Buffalo, New York, grocery store twice, on July 19 and July 20. In his first call, George allegedly threatened to shoot Black people in the store and in his second, ranted about a “race war,” Brown said.
He has also been charged in connection to a phone call in May to a restaurant in San Bruno, California, during which he threatened to shoot Black and Hispanic patrons, Brown said.
The criminal complaint described other threatening calls George allegedly made over the last 12 months to businesses in Maryland, Connecticut and Washington, according to a July news release from Western District of Washington prosecutors.
On May 14, 10 Black people were killed and several others injured in a mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Markets store on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo. An 18-year-old with ties to white supremacy has been charged in that attack.
According to prosecutors, George did not call the same grocery store but referred to it in his threat.
“By law, the decision to charge a hate crime is appropriately deliberate – with consultation and approval from DOJ’s Civil Rights Division in Washington D.C.,” said Brown in a statement. “In this case, the hate-filled threats to kill, based on race, are fittingly being prosecuted as a hate crime.”
George was arrested in July one day after the second phone call to the Buffalo store, records filed in the case show.
He is being held at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac and is scheduled to be arraigned in Seattle in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on Aug. 11.
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