St. Petersburg park assault will be prosecuted as a hate crime

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Every time Keandra Brown goes to the Clam Bayou Park in St. Petersburg, she thinks about February 20.

That’s the day she and her friends were at the park enjoying each other’s company and doing some painting. That was also the day, police say, 36-year old Joshua Rousseau started yelling racial slurs at the group and firing an air rifle at them.

No one suffered any injuries, but police arrested Rousseau and charged him with five counts of aggravated assault and one count of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.

“And I’m literally just standing there like, if he shoots me and if this is a real gun, he’s just going to have to shoot me. That’s just how it was,” said Brown. “His intent was to hurt someone. So you’ve gotta think about, like when he’s saying something and he has a weapon in his hand that’s a rifle, you don’t know what type of rifle it is because you’re so far away. “

Keandra Brown, assault victim.

On April 16, prosecutors filed paperwork with the clerk’s office indicating they will be prosecuting the case as a hate crime, meaning the charges are now upgraded from third-degree felonies to second-degree.

Attorney Roger Futerman is not affiliated with this case but says if Rousseau is found guilty, he could spend the rest of his life in jail.

“So there’s a maximum of 90 years (in prison),” said Futerman, who adds the fact that the victim’s shot video makes this a stronger case for the prosecution. “If you have, caught on tape, the racial slur in connection with the individual aiming a gun or a pellet rifle or something to that degree, that certainly is enough and it seems on the surface a very compelling case for the state.”

Brown just hopes Rousseau will be held accountable.

“I wouldn’t want him to do this to anyone else,” said Brown. “There were kids out here. This is a nature park. Everybody comes out here. “

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