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Orangevale man arrested for allegedly hurling racist remarks, threats

Video shows suspect driving dangerously through Sacramento County park
Video shows suspect driving dangerously through Sacramento County park 02:23

RANCHO CORDOVA -- A diverse Sacramento County community has been rattled by a disturbing scene.

According to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office, Robert Avery, 33, was arrested on suspicion of hurling racist remarks and threats at people at Heron Landing Park on Sunday night.

Avery is also accused of causing a disturbance earlier in the day hours before what allegedly transpired at the Rancho Cordova recreation area.

A video shows the aftermath of a man driving dangerously throughout Heron Landing Park during a gathering. The Sacramento County Sheriff's Office said it received several 911 calls for a man trying to run over people.

The callers told dispatchers the person targeted South Asian parkgoers by threatening to "shoot and bomb them."

No one was injured during the incident.

By Monday, this multicultural community watched the video in disbelief.

"We walk here every day and that's kind of dangerous," said Cathy Thao, a grandmother out on a walk with her granddaughter.  

I don't like it, but we will have to pay more attention if things like that happen, said Nga Oonk, a mother.

After an overnight search, deputies arrested Robert Avery after he turned himself in with the help of his family.

"This is something as an American, we do on any Sunday anyway. So, for him to go and attack this group, it goes beyond words," said Sgt. Amar Gandhi, a department spokesperson.  

The department said it credits the families for helping detectives in the quick-turnaround of the case.

"They were very brave. Instead of just folding and giving up. They actually ran and got cover — got themselves safe," Gandhi said. "They got their phones out and again this is something that if you're in that type of situation… they were out there taking pictures. They got video and helped us ID that vehicle really quickly which led us back to that suspect."

While Avery faces multiple charges including a hate crime statute, the Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling for the federal law enforcement to bring hate crime charges.

"It's scary. You don't really see this level of aggravated attack on people," said Omar Altamimi of CAIR Sacramento Valley/Central Valley. "Hate crimes have been on the rise, we've been telling people to be safe, be careful."

CBS13 is also learning the 33-year-old Orangevale man is a registered sex offender, though the Sacramento sheriff is working to learn more about the suspect's criminal history including whether he was allowed to be near the park.

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