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Community leaders take stand in wake of hate crime

Community leaders take stand in wake...

SPOKANE, Wash. - Community leaders are taking a stand against hate, after two convicted felons are accused of shooting up a man's home in North Spokane, because of the color of his skin.

Within hours of news of the crime coming out Tuesday night, human rights groups stood ready to denounce it.

“These brazen behaviors are growing,” said Former Spokane NAACP President Phil Tyler. “We too must grow. Grow in our opposition and denunciation of hate.”

The suspects, Jason Cooper and Donald Prichard, both have long felony records. Both have served time in prison, and both are now charged with malicious harassment, a hate crime under Washington law.   

“These acts of hate, of intolerance, and of violence, have no place in Spokane,” said Spokane Mayor David Condon.

Witnesses say hate and intolerance are what motivated a convicted felon to open fire. You can still see the bullet holes in the North Spokane home.

Elizabeth Fisher lives in the house on North Wiscomb with her children and her friend, 66-year-old Norris Cooley, who is African American.

Cooley was cleaning out his garage around 11 p.m. on Sunday. That's when police say his neighbor, Jason Cooper, and Cooper's friend, Donald Prichard, approached Cooley and began yelling racial slurs, including the n-word.

At one point, the two said “you don't deserve to be breathing white man's air.” Other witnesses told police they heard the suspects yelling “heil the KKK!” and “white power!”

Cooley asked the men to leave, but instead, they followed him into his garage. One man punched Cooley in the face, pulled a gun on him, and threatened to end his life. The men left, but returned 20 minutes later in a vehicle, and according to police, began firing at Cooley's home.

“I figured 10 or 11 shots,” said Fisher.

Several bullets passed through the walls. Fisher says one came within 5 inches of her head.

Fisher isn't sure why her neighbor and his friend turned violent.

“We didn't have any problems with them, so I don't what happened,” said Fisher.

Court documents say Jason Cooper lived next door with his girlfriend, who told investigators that Cooper was a supremacist, and had 'white power' tattooed on his leg. Her daughter also told police that Cooper was a racist, and disliked people of color.

Both men are charged with five counts of first degree assault, and one count of malicious harassment. Since both have previous felonies, they are also charged with unlawful possession.

Both men are being held on $500,000 bonds.


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