A Florida man pleaded guilty to two federal hate crimes on Thursday after attacking two Black women with a gun.
According to the plea agreement, using force or a threat of force, Frederick Eugene Pierallini III, 27, willfully intimidated the victims and interfered with their enjoyment of federally protected activities because of their race and color.
According to court documents, on Sept. 10, 2022, Pierallini went to Daily’s Place, a convenience store, located at 620 Chaffee Road South in Jacksonville, Florida.
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Victim 1 was working there as a clerk at the register. Pierallini attempted to buy snacks at the register, but his card was declined. He then attempted to walk out of the store with unpaid merchandise.
Pierallini returned, scolding the woman for not knowing how to do her job and directing racial slurs at her. Pierallini left the store, retrieved a shotgun from his car, pointed it at the woman, and cocked it by pulling the slide back to open the chamber and load a bullet into it. The woman ran away in fear. Pierallini used racial slurs throughout the encounter.
Two days later, on Sept. 12, 2022, Pierallini approached the second victim as she was sitting in her walker on the public sidewalk near 1571 University Boulevard West.
He yelled racial slurs at her and told her that she could not sit where she was. Pierallini also threatened to kill the woman. He then left, returned with a shotgun, and fired a single shot.
“The defendant is being held accountable for targeting two Black women with a gun on two separate days because of their race and because they were engaging in federally protected activities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Racially motivated threats and acts of violence have no place in our society today. The Justice Department stands ready to investigate and prosecute individuals who target Black people with threats and acts of violence.”
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“The defendant in this case committed a vile assault on two women with a dangerous weapon because of their race,” said U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg for the Middle District of Florida. “These actions were repugnant and endangered the women’s and the public’s safety. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to counter crimes like these with the full force of the law.”
“Investigating these acts and seeking justice remains a top priority for the FBI and our partners because hate crimes are not only an attack on the victim – they are meant to threaten and intimidate an entire community,” said Special Agent in Charge Sherri E. Onks of the FBI Jacksonville Field Office. “There is no place for hate and racism, and no one should ever fear they could be targeted in an act of violence based on how they look, where they’re from or any part of their identity. The team at FBI Jacksonville is proud to work alongside our partners at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to protect all members of this community.”
A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled. For each count, Pierallini faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, three years of mandatory supervised release and a fine up to $250,000. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Clarke, U.S. Attorney Handberg, and Special Agent in Charge Onks made the announcement.
The FBI Jacksonville Field Office and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.
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