A man from St. Petersburg, Florida, has been arrested after witnesses say he fired an air rifle at a group of Black women while yelling the N-word at them through a megaphone and threatening to kill them.
WFLA-TV reports that Keandra Brown, Renita Skelton and two other friends had met up at the Clam Bayou Park for a picnic gathering on Feb. 20.
The women say everything was going fine until Joshua Rousseau showed up and 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. “
“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 at them,” the local news outlet reports. “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.”
When police arrived Rousseau also pointed the air rifle at a sergeant and pulled the trigger, according to the arrest report.
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 said if investigators determine this crime was racially motivated, it could be classified as a hate crime.
“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.”