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Colorado man pleads guilty to federal hate crime for stabbing a man 'because he was Black'

Arbys in Pilot Travel Center in Ontario, Oregon
Posted at 10:01 PM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 00:01:20-04

DENVER — A Colorado man has pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime for stabbing a Black man in an Oregon Arby's restaurant in December 2019 "because he was Black."

Nolan Levi Strauss, 27, pleaded guilty Thursday to a hate crime involving an attempt to kill, according to the Department of Justice.

Court documents describing the incident say the victim walked into an Ontario, Oregon, Arby's, which was attached to a Pilot Travel Center, where he was planning to drop off documentation for a pending job application. He was sitting a booth by himself waiting for the restaurant manager when Strauss came in. Strauss approached the man from behind and stabbed him in the neck twice unprovoked.

The man was able to break free and run to the other side of the restaurant before collapsing. A maintenance worked used a belt to secure Strauss' hands behind his back until police arrived.

While they were waiting, the worker asked Strauss why he stabbed the man, to which he replied, “Because he was Black, and I don’t like Black people.” After his arrest he admitted he was trying to kill the man because was he was Black, according to court documents.

The victim had to be life-flighted to Boise, Idaho, for emergency surgery.

On Sept. 17, 2020 a Eugene, Oregon, federal grand jury returned a single-count indictment charging Strauss with a hate crime involving an attempt to kill.

Strauss faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. He will be sentenced on Sept. 9 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane.