Texas pair charged in hate crime against Sikh man

Two men accused of attacking a Sikh resident of Richmond are being charged with a hate crime by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office.

Chase Little and Colton Leblanc are accused of beating Maan Singh Khalsa and him attacking with a knife on the night of Sept. 25 as Khalsa was sitting alone in his car at a stoplight.

During the attack, the men allegedly forced Khalsa’s head down, knocked off his turban and cut his hair with a knife, according to the district attorney’s office.

District Attorney Mark Peterson said in a statement:

“Mr. Khalsa’s actual or perceived race/ethnicity, religion and nationality was a substantial factor in the vicious assault. … The savage cutting of Mr. Khalsa’s unshorn hair, a sacred article of his faith, constitutes a hate crime under the law.”

Both men were charged with assault and assault with a deadly weapon, with prosecutors adding the enhancements of a hate crime and infliction of great bodily injury.

The men allegedly attacked Khalsa at about 9 a.m. when he was stopped at a red light near the Hilltop Mall in Richmond on his way home from work.

The two were in a pickup truck along with three other people when it pulled up next to Khalsa and someone from the truck began throwing beer cans at Khalsa’s car, according to the district attorney’s office.

Khalsa called 911 to report the harassment, but at the next stoplight, Leblanc and Little jumped out of the truck, ran to Khalsa’s car and began punching him through the open window. They knocked his turban off, grabbed him by the hair and, while yelling obscenities, cut his hair with a knife, according to prosecutors.

The attack left Khalsa with a battered and bruised face, several damaged teeth and a serious knife wound to his hand that will require the amputation of his pinky finger, prosecutors said.

The other men in the pickup truck, including Dustin Albarado, did not physically attack Khalsa and have not been charged.

Little and Leblanc are contractors from Texas who were working for the Chevron Richmond Refinery. Both men were since fired, according to a statement from Chevron.

Little, who has a court date on Nov. 21, is out on bail and a warrant has been issued for Leblanc, according to prosecutors.