Read the full story at Indian Country Today.
Johnny and Lisa Bonta, a Native family from the Reno Sparks Indian Colony, became victims of a hate crime on May 24 when they were attacked at a gas station along I-80 in Fernley, Nevada, a border town between the Fallon and Pyramid Lake Indian reservations.
“I was pumping gas at Quick Stop on our way to Reno to look for another job when these skinheads in a blue car drove by real slow and checked us out. The driver jumped out with a baseball bat, and I asked them ‘why you holding a bat?” said Bonta. “He said ‘let’s do this’ and tried to pick a fight. I don’t know how to explain what happened—we didn’t do anything to them.”
Bonta, a Paiute member of the Reno Sparks Indian Colony, tried to avoid the confrontation by telling them he didn’t want to fight. He got back in the car, with his son-in-law Shane Murray at the wheel, and they quickly drove away with the carload of skinheads in close pursuit.
As they approached the freeway ramp, they were cut off as the blue car swerved in front of them, then slammed on the brakes, causing Murray to crash into it. Murray said he recognized one of the attackers as Jacob Cassell, a former classmate and son of retired Lyon County Sheriff officer Jim Cassell.
The following is an excerpt from the attack.
“They all jumped out of the car with baseball bats, knives and a crowbar, and we knew they were going to hurt us,” said Lisa Bonta, in an interview from Washoe Medical Center, where she was in treatment for seizures she suffers.
…snip…[even though this happened at 1pm, nobody passing by would stop to help them]…
“I saw one of them hit my husband in the head with a bat, and the other one was trying to cut off his braid with a knife. Johnny was covered in blood and they just kept hitting him with a crow bar. They even tried to slit his throat,” she added.
“Jacob Cassell had my son-in-law on the ground in a chokehold and Shane was turning blue. My daughter was sobbing ‘they’re killing him’ and somehow she found the strength to hit Jacob in self-defense so he would release Shane.”
It was then, Lisa said, that Cassell turned his anger on her and her daughter, jumping on the hood of their car while swinging a baseball bat and cursing at them.
“I’m a 46 year-old woman with serious health problems, and I tried to defend myself, but he hit me across the lower back with his bat, calling us ‘niggers and river monsters,” said Lisa, who is Anglo. “He pointed at Alyssa and said he would rape her the next time he saw her in Fernley, where she lives.”
The attack happened in Nevada. Send an email to Governor Brain Sandoval
asking why only the victims were arrested.