A Bakersfield man, who was sentenced this month for child abuse, was indicted for firing a sawed-off shotgun outside his house while yelling racial slurs, the Justice Department announced Monday.
Justin Whittington, 24, has been charged with interfering with a person’s housing rights because of race, color or national origin by use of force or threat of force, use of a firearm during a crime of violence, unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm and making a false statement to a federal agent.
“The use of racially motivated violence and threats of violence to intimidate persons in connection with their choice of housing is a criminal act,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner.
According to the indictment, in December 2012, Whittington fired a sawed off shotgun outside of his Oildale home in the front of a Latino family while yelling racial slurs.
Afterward, Whittington told an FBI agent that the gun used in the incident did not belong to him but rather someone paid him to keep it in the trunk of his car that day – a statement which authorities later determined was fabricated.
Earlier this month, Whittington pleaded guilty to charges of child abuse and was subsequently sentenced to four years of probation, four days in jail, 200 hours of community service and mandatory enrollment to parenting classes.
The charges stem from an incident in April in which he was caught on a supermarket surveillance camera punching his young child in the face with enough force that it knocked the kid to the floor.
If convicted of the federal gun and hate crime charges, Whittington could face up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.