DeLand Man Charged With Hate Crime In Unprovoked Attack Against Teens


Osteen, FL - A DeLand man is facing enhanced hate crime charges after a racially-charged attack against three high school students.

Richard Burnham’s charges stem from a January 22 incident where he used a pipe to smash the window of a vehicle the teens—aged 17 to 18—were sitting in. He was arrested on Wednesday (Jan. 26), days after the incident took place.

The victims told deputies they were getting gas when Burnham became hostile and aggressive and began to use racial slurs. After smashing their window, Burnham dented their passenger door with the same pipe. The victims managed to leave the gas station, but Burnham ended up following them for about two miles before turning away. 

The teens later spoke to deputies and gave them Burnham’s description, along with the description of his truck. A check of the gas station’s surveillance cameras also helped investigators confirm Burnham’s identity.

When deputies met up with Burnham he said the teens had shot at him with an airsoft gun and threatened to kill him. However, deputies began to see a number of discrepancies in his story: he never called law enforcement to report the incident, his timeline was inconsistent, and no airsoft gun was recovered.

Burnham was ultimately charged with criminal mischief of $1,000 or more, and three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; all of which have been enhanced as a hate crime because of his use of slurs during the unprovoked attack. He was released from jail on Wednesday after posting a $40,000 bond.

A check of the Volusia County Clerk of Courts shows Burnham is due in court on February 24 for an arraignment. The Clerk’s office also shows that Burnham was arrested once before for simple battery in 2003, but that case was not prosecuted.