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On a Saturday afternoon in late March, middle-aged Charles Edward Turner walked into a McDonald’s in downtown Pittsburgh, tackled a 12-year-old boy, and stabbed him in the neck with a box cutter.
It took three family members to free the boy of Turner, who resisted being held down by shoving and biting one of them on the bicep, spilling blood in the fast-food restaurant. The family had stopped by for a quick bite after the diabetic boy’s blood sugar fell low. As the family’s everyday outing turned into a chaotic scene of blood and violence, they found themselves fighting for his life.
By the time police arrived, Turner had managed to get outside the restaurant. “White n——,” “white devils,” he shouted as officers and witnesses tried to get him under control. Turner fought with officers, striking one in the face, kicking and punching another, hurling racial slurs. According to the criminal complaint, he kept brawling with police even at the station house, kicking an officer and calling all the rest “white devils,” “rapists,” “white n——,” and “white satan.”
Turner is black, and what little we know of the incident strongly suggests his victims were white. Investigators said they do not believe Turner and the boy knew each other—as if that would make the incident any less depraved. The 51-year-old faces charges of attempted homicide, assault, and resisting arrest. For many observers, this has elements of a hate crime, just not the kind you’re supposed to notice.