Florida man charged after violent, racially motivated attack against high school students at gas station

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DELAND, FL – A DeLand man is facing enhanced charges in an unprovoked, racially prejudiced attack on a car occupied by three high school students at a gas station in the Osteen area.

Deputies responded to the Circle K at 320 N. S.R. 415 in Osteen shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday after the victims reported the incident. The three young men, each 17 to 18 years old, told deputies they were getting gas when an unidentified man became hostile and aggressive toward them and started using racial slurs against them.

The victims said the suspect went into the gas station, then came out and retrieved a pipe from his truck, which he then used to smash the passenger side of the vehicle with the victims inside. The front passenger window was shattered and the passenger door panels were dented before the victims were able to drive away on S.R. 415. The victims said the suspect got in his truck and followed them for about 2 miles before turning away. They were able to provide a detailed description of the suspect, his truck and the trailer it was pulling with two four-wheelers on it.

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Deputies checked surveillance footage inside the store and found a man matching the suspect description purchasing a case of beer around the time of the incident. A follow-up investigation with the help of analysts in the Volusia County Crime Center identified a potential suspect as 58-year-old Richard Burnham (DOB 11/25/1963), whose photo and registered vehicle matched the descriptions.

On Wednesday, in an interview with a detective, Burnham confirmed he was at the gas station and was involved in a verbal altercation with the victims. He claimed they had shot him with an airsoft gun and threatened to kill him, prompting him to throw a metal pipe at their car. However, Burnham never contacted law enforcement to report the incident, there were discrepancies in the timeline of his account, and deputies on scene found no airsoft gun with the victims.

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Burnham was charged with criminal mischief causing damage of $1,000 or more, and three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill. The charges were enhanced as a hate crime due to Burnham’s use of racial slurs during the unprovoked attack. See Florida Statute 775.085 (1) (a).

Burnham was transported to the Volusia County Branch Jail, where he posted $40,000 bond Wednesday evening.