A suburban Houston man has been charged with a federal hate crime in Texas for allegedly striking an elderly black man during a "knockout game" attack.
Authorities charge that Conrad Barrett, 27, of Katy, violated the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act when he allegedly targeted a black man in a knockout attack on Nov. 24, reported the Houston Chronicle
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"Suspected crimes of this nature will simply not be tolerated," acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuals from the Civil Rights Division of the FBI told the Chronicle. "Hate crimes tear the fabric of entire communities. As always, the Civil Rights Division will work with our federal and state law enforcement partners to ensure that hate crimes are identified and prosecuted, and that justice is done."
The Houston Chronicle reported that federal officials describe the knockout game as "an assault where someone aims to knock out an unsuspecting victim with just one punch."
Law enforcement charge in court documents that Barrett used his cell phone to record himself, stating he intended perform a "knockout" attack and used a racial slur in the process.
Authorities charge that Barrett said in the recording that "the plan was to see if I were to hit a black person, would it be nationally televised," the Chronicle reported.
Law enforcement told the Chronicle that they believe Barrett then recorded the attack, hitting a 79-year-old victim and breaking his jaw in two places.
"It is unimaginable in this day and age that one could be drawn to violently attack another based on the color of their skin," special agent in charge Stephen Morris told CNN
. "We remind all citizens that we are protected under the law from such racially motivated attacks, and encourage everyone to report such crimes to the FBI."
George Parnham, Barrett's attorney, said to CNN the affidavit does not "pull back the layers of mental health."
Parnham said Barrett has bipolar disorder and takes medication. He said he could not say if his client did the attack but added "mental health issues definitely played a part in anything that occurred."
Parnham said he has not had an opportunity to talk with Barrett about the facts of the case but that he "is very sorry for this person," wrote CNN.
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