Two men charged for hate crimes |

Two men charged for hate crimes

Hate-crime charges were filed Wednesday against two white men accused of threatening black visitors at a Grass Valley bus stop and hurling objects at them.

Craig J. McIlhenny, 22, of Grass Valley and Nicholas A. Underwood, 21, of Nevada City are scheduled to be arraigned today in Nevada County Superior Court on felony charges of criminal threats with special allegations of racial motivation.

Also, McIlhenny was charged with possession of a firearm in a public place, possession of a concealed weapon in a vehicle and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Underwood, a parolee, was also charged with assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly tossing a full soft drink can at a black woman’s head. She was in a group of visitors from the Sacramento area.

District Attorney Mike Ferguson called the charges rare, while Grass Valley Police Capt. Greg Hart called the alleged conduct “despicable behavior.”

“I hope this sends a very, very clear message that this is never going to be tolerated in this community,” Hart said.

The defendants and a third white man who wasn’t charged, 32-year-old Joseph McIntosh of Grass Valley, were arrested after a Tuesday afternoon traffic stop at Walsh and South Church streets.

Earlier, according to police, the trio made three passes in a Honda Civic at the corner of Neal and South Church streets, where two black women, a black man and a white man waited for a bus.

On the first pass, around 1:15 p.m., the defendants issued racially charged and vulgar threats to a black woman, including, “We’re going to kill you …” and “I’m taking your life,” Hart said.

The second time, 10 to 15 minutes later, the threats resumed and sunflower seeds were tossed from the car, striking a few people, according to Hart.

The final time, about five minutes later, a can was tossed at a the woman, nearly striking her head, Hart said. He said the defendants got out of the car and approached the victims, but a couple of white men also waiting for the bus stepped in the way.

Hart said the victims didn’t know the defendants and apparently didn’t say or do anything to anger them. During the traffic stop, he said, police found a loaded semi-automatic handgun under a car seat.

Ferguson called it the first time since former Truckee jailer Bobby Rutledge’s 1997 arrest for sexual misconduct against women prisoners that he can recall filing civil rights-related charges.

The law cited in McIlhenny’s and Underwood’s charges says it’s unlawful for someone to threaten, intimidate, or injure another person because of race, religion, ancestry, nationality, disability, gender or sexual orientation.

Ferguson said McIntosh wasn’t charged because there was insufficient evidence that he aided and abetted the defendants.

All three men remain at Wayne Brown Correctional Facility.

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