Justin Cole Whittington of Bakersfield was found guilty Monday of federal hate crimes for firing a shotgun while yelling racial slurs at a Latino man.
Whittington was convicted by a federal jury in Fresno of interfering with a person’s housing rights because of his race, color, or national origin by use of force or threat of force; use of a firearm during a crime of violence; and making a false statement to a special agent of the FBI.
On December 19, 2012, the victim, a Latino man, was standing in his front yard with his wife and son when a dark-colored PT Cruiser drove past slowly and came to a stop in front of his neighbor’s house, according to court documents.
Whittington, whom the victim had never seen before, got out of the front passenger seat of the car holding a sawed-off shotgun. Whittington used profanity and shouted racial slurs as he fired one round toward the victim from about 15 yards away, and yelled that the victim should move out of Oildale.
Whittington got back into the car and drove away. Shortly after, the shotgun was fired from the PT Cruiser at a nearby convenience store owned by a man of Middle Eastern descent. The blast left damage to the store.
“Whittington used violence to terrorize an innocent man and his family,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gupta said in a press release.
Whittington is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd on February 27, 2017. He faces a maximum of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In a separate incident, Whittington was caught on camera hitting a toddler in April 2015.