A Pennsylvania man driving through Harford County recently was assaulted by two men shouting racial epithets from a pickup truck that had a large Confederate flag mounted in the bed, according to Maryland State Police, who said they are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
State Police are asking for the public's help identifying the men involved.
"It's not something we see frequently, fortunately," Greg Shipley, spokesman for the Maryland State Police, said. "And that's why we're certainly hoping anyone with information would come forward and assist investigators."
State Police said the victim is a 20-year-old African American man from southeastern Pennsylvania, whom they are not identifying for safety reasons.
The two men are described as white males, in their mid to late 20s, both about 5 feet, 10 inches tall and 180 pounds. Both were wearing blue jeans and baseball caps. One was wearing a black T-shirt and had a small amount of facial hair. The other was wearing a white T-shirt.
They were in a small black pickup truck with a long bed, according to the news release. The victim reported a large Confederate flag was mounted in the bed of the truck, which may have a dent in the front right bumper.
The victim didn't report the incident until several hours later, when he and his father drove to the Bel Air Barrack on the evening of Saturday, May 27, Shipley said.
"He told investigators he was caught up in the situation and didn't think to call police" during the incident, Shipley said.
The victim told police that earlier that afternoon, he was driving a dark maroon Ford Focus north on Route 1, north of Castleton Road in Darlington, when a black pickup came up behind him and began blowing its horn.
The victim told police the pickup swerved to the right and attempted to pull alongside his vehicle. The victim swerved to the left to avoid a crash, and the truck pulled up beside him. The victim said the men put the truck window down and began yelling racial slurs, according to the news release.
The truck then accelerated and swerved back into the victim's lane, cutting him off. The victim braked and swerved, police said. The action caused him to hydroplane and swerve to the right and left, striking guardrails on both sides of the road.
When the man stopped to inspect damage on his vehicle, he told police, the pickup truck stopped and the suspects began to taunt him, according to the news release.
The victim reported to police that he then followed the pickup north on Route 1 to the entrance of the Conowingo swimming pool.
Both vehicles stopped, and the victim said the men approached and used racial epithets. After they pushed him to the ground, he said a fight ensued and he defended himself, subduing both suspects, according the news release.
The victim reported the men got back into their truck and drove south on Route 1. The victim did not require medical treatment, police said.
Troopers are asking for the public's help in identifying the suspects and the vehicle they were operating.
Anyone who was in the area of Route 1 north of Castleton Road or in the area of the entrance to the Conowingo pool on the afternoon of May 27 is asked to contact State Police criminal investigators at 410-996-7813. Callers may remain anonymous.
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Shipley said anyone who is victim to a similar experience should call police immediately.
"We certainly want to be informed as soon as possible on these types of incidents to ensure our investigation is as effective as it can be from the start," he said.
This was the second racial incident in the area in less than two weeks.
On May 21, a University of Maryland student was charged with killing a black college student from Bowie State University who was visiting the College Park campus in what police are investigating as a hate crime, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Sean Christoper Urbanski, 22, of Severna Park, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Richard Collins III, who days earlier had been commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army.
Urbanski was a member of a racist Facebook group, police said.
Sun reporter Carrie Wells contributed to this story.