Not a hate crime huh?
A midnight gas station encounter between an Oregon white supremacist gang member and African-American teen proved fatal after the two engaged in a scuffle on Aug. 10. In the end, it was the gang banger’s car that would ultimately take the life of the young man.
According to the Portland Mercury, Russell Courtier, 38, and his girlfriend, Colleen Hunt, pulled their red Jeep into a 7-Eleven that evening, as 19-year-old Larnell Bruce stood outside to charge his cell phone and chit-chat with a friend. Bruce had recently moved to Oregon to live with his mother and younger brother, the paper reports.
It’s unclear what words were exchanged between the two, but Courtier and Bruce were soon engaged in an all-out fist fight, taking jabs and swinging at each other. Hunt could be heard egging her boyfriend on: “Get him, baby! Get him, baby!”
The convenience store clerk dialed 911 after Courtier slammed the teen’s head against the store’s front window, cracking it. Soon afterward, Bruce pulled out what appeared to be a machete to ward off his attacker. Courtier and Hunt retreated back into their Jeep.
The couple decided that the fight wouldn’t end there, as they chased the Black teen with their car, threatening to run him over. Per the Portland Mercury, Courtier and Hunt barley missed Bruce as they gunned the car toward him on the sidewalk. The young man attempted to zig-zag to safety, turning and running in the opposite direction. Court affidavits state that the couple then chased Bruce “across oncoming lanes of traffic and intentionally struck him with the front of the vehicle.”
Police arrived on the scene to find Bruce lying in the middle of the road with blood gushing from his head and ears. The teen survived a few days before succumbing to his injuries.
According to authorities, Courtier and Hunt admitted to intentionally striking the teen after they were pulled over by police. Both were indicted for murder on Aug. 18, the Portland Mercury reports.
This tragic story has remained largely absent from the headlines, as the daily news cycle remains clogged with coverage of the upcoming presidential election and other topics.
Three weeks later, and police still haven’t released a motive for the deadly attack. However, the local paper did some digging and found that Courtier has spent a large part of his life behind bars for violent crimes. The night he killed Bruce, he was already on parole for a 2013 knife attack on a woman that landed him in prison. He was also found to be a loyal member of the white supremacist prison gang European Kindred, or EK.
The goal “is to protect our own people in this joint,” Southern Poverty Law Center quotes the gang’s founder, David Kennedy, as saying.
Outside of prison, Courtier has racked up a total of seven felony convictions and four misdemeanor convictions, according to court records. He was able to get off in many other cases, however, like the time he was arrested for shooting multiple gun rounds into another car. According to the Portland Mercury, the charges against him were later dropped because officers illegally searched his car to find the weapon.
Courtier was also given probation in 2012 after he allegedly grabbed his fiancee’s neck and slammed her head against a windshield after she asked for gas money.
The paper reports that no hate crime provisions were included in Courtier and Hunt’s murder indictments. Gresham Detective Aaron Turnage told the Portland Mercury that despite Courtier’s connection to the European Kindred, it’s “unknown at this time” if Bruce’s murder was racially charged.