PORTLAND, Ore. – A man arrested last Friday for anti-Muslim hate crimes broke down in tears and expressed regret after his court arraignment Monday morning.
Frederick Nolan Sorrell, 49, was accused of second-degree intimidation after a Muslim couple was allegedly subjected to slurs and intimidation May 29.
Sorrell reportedly drove next to the couple for more than 20 blocks, according to a statement from The Oregon Committee of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
CAIR said he reportedly attempted to hit their vehicle several times and shouted "take off the (expletive) burka, this is America, go back to your (expletive) country" before mimicking firing a handgun pointed at the couple.
Sorrell, who made bail, pled not guilty Monday. He will be back in court again in August. He's also not allowed to go on Facebook anymore, according to the judge, where he made several discriminatory comments.
Portland police said Sorrell threatened a Muslim using words and hand gestures during the incident in May.
Sorrell says he was waving his hand and pointing his finger, but not making a gun gesture.
“I never tried to run into them. I was just going to work. I never tried to follow them. I never tried to make contact with them after the fact,” Sorrell said in tears outside the Multnomah County courtroom.
He did admit to yelling at the couple.
“I guess my fear and paranoia, I just yelled out. I don’t go on social media looking to hate on people," he said. "I guess my ignorance and my stupidity is why I opened my mouth, and I shouldn’t have and I claim full responsibility.”
“I don’t know who you are. I’m sorry I blurted out what I blurted out, my paranoia my fear. I don’t hate you I don’t know you,” Sorrell said. “I don’t wish death upon these people.”
“If the victims want to sit down and talk I would love to sit down and have an open conversation with them and have an open mind and apologize,” he said. “I just don’t know them, and all I know is fear based information.”
Police said in a news release bias crimes in Oregon “are defined as any criminal act that targets a victim based on the suspect’s perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability or national origin.”
The incident comes after the stabbing deaths of two men who defended a Muslim teenager wearing hijab who was reportedly being harassed by a man shouting slurs on a Portland train.
"We hope the arrest of this suspect will serve to deter others from committing bias-motivated crimes targeting Muslims or any other minority group," said CAIR-Oregon spokesperson Zakir Khan. "CAIR-Oregon thanks the Portland Police Bureau and the Portland Mayor's office for their diligent efforts in this case."
Anyone who feels they have been a victim of a hate crime is asked to call the police non-emergency line at 503-823-3333.