TORRANCE (CBSLA) — A Torrance man faces a hate crime charge for allegedly using a shovel to attack the truck of another driver, yelling "white lives matter," and flashing a Nazi salute.
Gregory Howell, 29, was charged Friday with one count each of assault with a deadly weapon, a shovel, and vandalism, as well as a special hate crime allegation, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Howell pleaded not guilty to the charge and was freed after posting $45,000 bail. He is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 11.
Police say altercation started out as a road rage incident. Video posted on social media during the July 22 altercation showed Howell and his wife, Rachelle, confronting the driver and passenger in the pickup truck at the intersection of Prairie Avenue and Artesia Boulevard in Torrance.
The video shows the couple out of their vehicle, with the woman flipping off the occupants of the pickup truck and saying "white lives matter b---," then moments later, Howell raising his arm in a Nazi salute. Polive say Howell got a large shovel and hit the pickup truck as it drove away, and the driver told officers he believed the woman damaged the driver's side mirror.
It's not clear if Rachelle Howell – who police initially identified as Rachel Howell – will also be charged in the incident.
Prosecutors will recommend Howell's bail be set at $75,000, according to the District Attorney's Office. If convicted as charged, Howell faces a possible maximum sentence of seven years, eight months in state prison.
Torrance police continue to investigate the incident.
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