A hate crime suspect, who was arrested in July in Torrance after allegedly performing a Nazi salute and vandalizing an occupied vehicle with a shovel, pleaded not guilty Monday to felony charges.
Gregory Edward Howell, 29, of Carson, was charged Friday with one count each of assault with a deadly weapon and vandalism, and is also facing a hate crime allegation. If convicted as charged, he would face up to seven years and eight months in prison.
Howell, who earlier posted a bond for bail in the amount of $45,000, was ordered to return to court Dec. 11, when a date is expected to be set for a preliminary hearing.
Howell and his wife were recorded in an alleged road rage incident about 10:30 p.m. on July 22, according to the Torrance Police Department. The District Attorney's Office declined to prosecute Rachelle Howell due to insufficient evidence, according to spokesman Greg Risling.
In a video circulated on social media, the pair were seen standing outside their white pickup truck at a stoplight near Artesia Boulevard and Prairie Avenue, according to Sgt. Alexander Martinez.
The woman in the video said to the victims, who were recording from inside their vehicle, "White lives matter (expletive)" and "only white lives matter (expletive).'' The male suspect is seen in the video giving a Nazi salute and saying "white power," according to police.
The suspects briefly got back in their vehicle, then the man exited, grabbed a shovel from the pickup's bed and hit the victims' car, according to Martinez. The vehicle sustained damage to the driver's side mirror.
One of the victims filed a police report about 10:50 a.m. the next day. The Howells were arrested on July 31 and posted bail the same day, according to sheriff's jail records.
The race of the victims was not immediately confirmed, Martinez said, but a Twitter user claiming to be the female victim's cousin said that the male victim is Black.