Victims in St. Petersburg park assault claim it was a hate crime

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – When Keandra Brown, Renita Skelton and two other friends met up at the Clam Bayou Park for a picnic gathering, they never dreamed their names would end up in a police report as victims.

The group arrived at the park on Feb. 20, and everything was going fine until Joshua Rousseau showed up.

The women, both African American, say Rousseau started calling them names. Skelton says at first she ignored him, thinking he must be speaking to someone else.

“And then I heard him say the N-word. And he’s like, I’ll kill all you,” Skelton said. “And I’m like, now I have to get up because my child is out there. So now I’ve got to get up. What’s, what’s happening? “

Brown tells a similar story. “We were just standing there and he was like I’m going to kill you,” Brown adding. “And then he started calling us the b-word and the n-word like he was saying it loosely. “

Keandra Brown believes the attack was racially motivated.

Rousseau was on his boat in Clam Bayou at the time, and at that point, investigators say he pulled out an air rifle and started firing. An air rifle could be anything from a pellet gun to a paintball gun. According to some online sources, they can be tuned to be lethal.

Skelton was horrified. “And it was several shots. Not just one,” said Skelton. “You’re shooting at them, you’re shooting at us and then the police actually got out here.”

Renita Skelton describes the horrifying ordeal.

Police arrived, and according to the arrest report, Rousseau also pointed the air rifle at a sergeant and pulled the trigger.

Officers arrested him on Wednesday and charged him with four counts of aggravated assault and one count of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer. Deputies are holding him in jail on a $25,000 bond.

A department spokeswoman tells 8 on Your Side, if investigators determine this crime was racially motivated, it could be classified as a hate crime.

Skelton can’t help but wonder why? Why her group of friends?

“I mean, like what times are we living in here? You know what I mean,” said Skelton. “Like, how can you have a problem with a group that you don’t know us.”

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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