A man who allegedly attacked a Mexican American father and son at a Utah tire shop while shouting "I hate Mexicans" is now facing federal hate crime charges after local prosecutors were unable to bring hate crime charges under state law.
Alan Covington, 50, was charged by a federal grand jury Wednesday with three counts of committing hate crime acts for allegedly attacking three men with a metal pole because he believed they were Mexican, according to court documents.
Authorities said Covington walked into Lopez Tires in Salt Lake City on Nov. 27, 2018, and struck the owner and his son with a metal pipe. The indictment further alleges that Covington struck a third man at the shop.
The family of the victims told the Salt Lake Tribune at the time that Covington shouted "I hate Mexicans" and "I'm here to kill a Mexican" when he entered the shop.
The owner, identified by family as Jose Lopez, got eight stitches in his arm and suffered bruising to his back as a result of the attack, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help the family pay for medical bills.
His son Luis, who was rendered unconscious from a blow to his head, underwent a three-hour surgery to place a titanium plate in the right side of his face, which was "shattered" in the attack.
The federal indictment comes after local prosecutors said they were unable to file hate crime enhancements against Covington because Utah law only allows them to upgrade the class of some misdemeanor charges when the perpetrator targets someone because of their membership in a certain social group or race.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney's office originally charged Covington with two felony counts of aggravated assault, as well as other weapons and drug charges.
If convicted of the hate crime charges, Covington faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the US Department of Justice.