A truck driver accused of stabbing a Black man in an unprovoked attack at a Oregon truck stop was charged with a hate crime Thursday, according to federal prosecutors.
A federal grand jury in Eugene, Oregon, indicted Nolan Levi Strauss, 26, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, with one count of a “hate crime involving an attempt to kill.”
The indictment alleges that Strauss, who drove for May Trucking Co., headquartered in Salem, Oregon, stabbed Ronnell T. Hughes, 48, in the neck twice in December 2019 at an Arby’s fast food restaurant. Arby’s is attached to the Pilot Travel Center in Ontario, Oregon. Strauss had pulled into the Pilot two days prior to the incident.
Investigators said Hughes was filling out a job application at Arby’s and was waiting to speak with a manager at the time of the attack.
Following a struggle for the knife, Hughes reportedly freed himself and Strauss was detained by store employees.
When asked by one Arby’s employee why he attacked Hughes, investigators claim Strauss said because he “was Black and I don’t like Black people.”
Hughes was life flighted to Boisie, Idaho, for emergency surgery following the knife attack.
History of mental illness
A police affidavit states that Strauss has a history of mental illness.
According to court documents, the former truck driver was convicted of assaulting a Lincoln, Nebraska, police officer in February 2018. He was released from jail three months later.
Court filings claim Strauss slammed the door on a police officer’s finger after Lincoln police were called to his apartment about a possible “suicidal party” in Lincoln in November 2017. Strauss was later taken into police custody after a Taser was used to subdue him, according to court documents filed in the Lancaster County District Court in Lincoln.
Strauss is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court on Oct. 19. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, said U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams in a statement.