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'Stabbed for just being himself': Oregon truck stop stabbing investigated as hate crime

Police said in a statement that the motive "leans heavily towards a racially motivated crime."
Police lights (Stock photo)

ONTARIO, Ore. — Authorities are investigating a stabbing in an eastern Oregon truck stop as a possible hate crime.

The Ontario Police Department said Ronnell Hughes, who is a 48-year-old black man, was at an Arby’s Restaurant Saturday morning when he was stabbed multiple times in the neck by 26-year-old Nolan Strauss of Nebraska, a white truck driver.

When officers arrived, Strauss was being restrained by restaurant employees. Hughes had been stabbed multiple times in the neck. Hughes was taken to the hospital and police said he's in stable condition.

Officers interviewed witnesses and the suspect, and looked at video evidence and physical evidence. Investigators say Hughes was at Arby's for a job interview. Police say that "without provocation or communication," Strauss walked up to Hughes and attacked him with a knife, slashing and stabbing him in the neck area.

Credit: Malheur County Sheriff's Office
Nolan Strauss

Hughes tried to fend off the attack and restaurant employees stepped in and were able to subdue Strauss inside the restaurant. No employees were injured.

Police say there is no indication at this time that the suspect or victim knew each other before the attack. Police said in a statement that the motive "leans heavily towards a racially motivated crime."

Mackey's Steakhouse & Pub posted to Facebook and said that Hughes, who had recently moved to the area, had just started working for them. "A man was stabbed for just being himself," the post read.

Strauss remains in Malheur County Jail on charges of attempted murder, assault and intimidation. It's unclear if he's represented by an attorney.

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