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Army vet says he hates 'all brown people,' threatens to kill Uber driver

Army veteran Sean Scappaticci in a police booking photo on Oct. 19, 2018.

COLORADO SPRINGS POLICE

By LIZ FORSTER | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) | Published: October 20, 2018

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Tribune News Service) — An Army veteran who served in Afghanistan was arrested early Friday in Colorado Springs after he allegedly threatened to kill an Uber driver because he hated "all brown people."

Sean Scappaticci, 29, was arrested on suspicion of a hate crime – known as a bias-motivated crime in Colorado, obstructing a peace officer, menacing and attempt to escape. He is being held in the El Paso County jail on $800 bond.

Under Colorado law, a hate crime is an offense, such as a verbal or physical assault or property damage, that is motivated by a person's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation.

Sentencing can range from alternative diversion programs to tacking on additional jail or prison time upon conviction.

Police said Scappaticci told the Uber driver, a man of "Middle Eastern descent" in his mid-20s, who picked him up just after 4 a.m. that he was going to kill him because he "hated all brown people."

Scappaticci told the driver he was a former Army Ranger and had killed many of the man's relatives overseas.

The driver, "fearing for his life," stopped in the 200 block of South Eighth Street and ran, police said. Scappaticci allegedly chased after the driver, threatening to beat him.

When officers arrived, they arrested Scappaticci, who continued to say he wanted to kill all "brown people," police said.

Once in the police cruiser, Scappaticci broke the back window, police said. Police removed him from the back seat, but they said he began to fight and resist officers. He eventually was subdued and taken to a hospital.

It is unknown if Scappaticci was injured while resisting officers or had another medical condition.

An Uber spokesperson said Scappaticci has been barred from the ride-sharing service:

"Discrimination is not tolerated on the Uber app. As soon as this was reported to us, we immediately removed this rider's access to the platform."

According to the Army, Scappaticci served four years, from 2008 to 2012. He was a Ranger and was a private first class when discharged. He was deployed three times to Afghanistan and was awarded two Army Commendation Medals and an Army Achievement Medal.

Law enforcement agencies and organizations that track extremist groups have said hate crimes and expressions of prejudice have been on the rise in recent years, which some attribute to President Donald Trump's rhetoric toward minorities.

Last year, brawls broke out at a gathering of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., ostensibly protesting the removal of Confederate statues. A woman was killed when a man affiliated with the white nationalists drove into a crowd of counterprotesters.

In Colorado, the state Bureau of Investigation reported there were 104 reports of hate crimes in 2016, the most recent year for which numbers were available. That was down from 107 in 2015, but up from 95 in 2014.

In August 2017, a swastika and other anti-Semitic messages – including the words 'sig (sic) heil" for "sieg heil," a Nazi greeting – were found spray-painted on a Jewish synagogue in Colorado Springs, Temple Beit Torah, 522 E. Madison St. Nearby cars, homes and buildings also were vandalized with racist slurs. White supremacist and neo-Nazi propaganda – from flyers to stickers and graffiti – has been reported across the region this year.

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(c)2018 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
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