A Maryland white supremacist was sentenced to 25 years in prison Wednesday for shooting a Black man in 2018 after a confrontation over the white man’s dog getting loose.
HuffPost reports that 26-year-old former Navy cryptologist Brandon Higgs was originally sentenced to 40 years in prison after being found guilty in January of first-degree assault, attempted voluntary manslaughter, hate crimes and related firearms charges for shooting and wounding 60-year-old Elvis Smith. According to a prosecutor for the Baltimore County state’s attorney’s office John Magee, the judge presiding over the case suspended 15 years of Higgs’ sentence meaning he will likely serve 25 years in prison followed by 5 years probation.
Here’s what happened in 2018 as reported by HuffPost:
On Dec. 20, 2018, 60-year-old Smith and 48-year-old Robert Peete were at work laying concrete on a driveway outside a house in Reisterstown. A dog belonging to Higgs, who lived nearby, got loose and ran through the wet concrete. The three men exchanged some angry words before Higgs returned home.
Higgs re-emerged outside minutes later carrying a loaded gun and made racist remarks to Smith and Peete. “This is my hood,” he said, using a racial slur. He added: “Black motherfuckers, go back to Africa!”
A shoving match broke out between Smith and Higgs, before Smith hit Higgs with a small rake used for smoothing concrete.
Higgs then drew his gun and a tussle over the weapon ensued. Peete told HuffPost he remembers Higgs pointing the gun directly in his face. Peete said he managed to get out of the way of the weapon.
At some point during the struggle, the gun went off, the bullet ripping through Smith’s leg and obliterating his tibia. (At Higgs’ trial later, it was never established whether he fired the gun or it went off accidentally.)
Smith and Peete then managed to disarm and restrain Higgs until police arrived.
If all that wasn’t enough, people who HuffPost described as “anti-fascists” uncovered comments made in a neo-Nazi group chat by Higgs—who pleaded not guilty to the charges against him—in which his disdain for Black people is made quite clear.
“I decided I’m going to create my own group called Baltimore Animal Control and buy those dog patrol poles with the snare at the end and wrangle niggers with it,” Higgs wrote in one post.
In another post he wrote, “Also want to leave bear traps in Baltimore city with buckets of KFC chicken.”
Court records show that Higgs has also been charged with multiple misdemeanors he allegedly committed while in prison since January when he was found guilty of his crimes. Prosecutors said those charges—which include possession of narcotics with the intent to distribute—are still pending and have nothing to do with what he’s been sentenced for.
After leaving Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, Smith—who has a metal implant in his leg as a result of the shooting—expressed delight over Higgs being put away and said he plans to take a long vacation from his work as a concrete mason which has become difficult for him due to his injury.
“He’s got a long time to think about the shit he did,” Smith told HuffPost. “So I’m happy.”