The Department of Justice has charged two South Carolina men, Charles Antonio Clippard, 26, and Michael Joseph Knox, 28, with hate crimes, carjacking, and firearms offenses, accusing them of orchestrating robberies and assaults specifically targeting individuals of Hispanic descent. The charges stem from a series of incidents allegedly carried out between January and February 2021.
According to the DOJ statement, Clippard and Knox face three counts of hate crime charges with additional charges related to carjacking and firearms offenses. The indictment asserts that the suspects deliberately chose victims based on their Hispanic identities, intending to cause “death and serious bodily harm.” The documents allege that, on multiple occasions, the perpetrators enlisted the help of other assailants.
In one instance in January 2021, Clippard and Knox purportedly singled out two individuals, referred to as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, while they shopped at Supermercado El Mariachi grocery store in Columbia, S.C. The indictment contends that the assailants followed the victims to their homes, robbing them of cash and cell phones.
Several days later, the suspects allegedly targeted individuals they identified as “Mexican and Hispanic” at a gas station, following one victim, identified as John Doe 3, to his residence. The indictment claims the assailants robbed him at gunpoint, taking his passport, wallet, and car.
On the same day, another attack unfolded as they followed a victim identified as Mexican to his house from another gas station. According to the indictment, they held a firearm to the victim’s head, pushed him into his residence, and proceeded to rob him and other Hispanic victims.
The potential consequences for Clippard and Knox include a maximum of 25 years for the hate crime and carjacking charges, with a minimum of 21 years for the firearms charges, as per the DOJ statement. It remains unclear whether either suspect has legal representation or has entered pleas to the charges at this time.