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A Florida man is facing a number of charges after allegedly calling his neighbor a racial slur and setting his car on fire — but a hate crime is not one of them.
Ronald Sweet was washing and waxing his car outside of his apartment complex on Saturday night when Joseph Minor, 56, told him he was “flashy,” called him a racial slur, threatened to “take care of” him, and said his days were numbered, according to the police report.
“I hate you n*ggers!” Sweet alleges Minor said to him during the verbal altercation, police say.
Around 10 minutes later, at around 12:35 a.m. on Sunday, Sweet reportedly heard a boom and looked outside not only to find his 2002 Mercury on fire, but Minor running away from the scene.
Both Sweet and his fiancé Cecilia Jones said that Minor had a history of calling them and other tenants the N-word, according to the police report. Charles Corey, another resident, reported seeing Minor walking away from Sweet’s car and taking a bag to the dumpster behind their apartment complex. Corey, who had gone outside to move his car away from the burning vehicle,reported hearing Minor yell “I’m going to blow up your car!” prior to the vehicle fire.
Minor told police that he was acting within the confines of the law and that he was there to protect his father, according to the police report.
When an officer asked Minor to elaborate, he said that as long as nobody witnesses it, you won’t get in to trouble for it, according to the report, which also stated that a scrap of wood, a napkin, a disposable lighter, and miscellaneous lists were found in Minor’s pocket at the time of his arrest.
Minor told police that he thought the apartment complex was unsafe because drug dealers live there, and that this isn’t the first time there’s been conflict. When asked why he didn’t contact the police about alleged problems in the complex, he said he didn’t believe the police could do anything.
Minor was “very intoxicated” at the time of his arrest, according to the police report. He denied having anything to do with the fire — which caused approximately $5,000 in damages to Sweet’s car — and claimed he had been sleeping.
Minor was charged with arson, causing damage to a structure and criminal mischief and damage to property of $1,000 or more. He was being held without bail as of Monday, when police announced that there was not enough evidence to charge Minor with a hate crime after investigators examined the call history at Minor’s home over the past six months, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
“There is no pattern of behavior that would show this is a hate crime,” South Daytona police Captain Mark Cheatham said.
“The reality of it he was intoxicated,” Cheatham added. “He had some mental lapse in judgment.”
“It’s absolutely a hate crime. It’s absolutely because apparently, he don’t like colored people,” Sweet told Click Orlando. “He told me my days were numbered. I won’t be flashing anymore.”
[Photo: Volusia County, Florida Corrections]