Deputies: 2 men face charges after yelling racist slurs and shooting at kids

James Reidnauer, 30, and Brent Van Besien. Screen capture by WFTV9 video

The mother of two biracial children is speaking out after two men were charged with hate crimes in which they allegedly fired gunshots and yelled racial slurs at the kids, The Daily Beast reports.

A 16-year-old boy and his 12-year-old sister were walking home from a convenience store in Lake County, Florida, when they were reportedly confronted by James Robert Reidnauer and Brent van Besien early last week, according to an affidavit.

Lake County Sheriff’s deputies say the two men yelled racial slurs, calling the boy n****r f**kboy and fired at least two shots near the kids.

“We’re so grateful, thank God they were able to get home,” Michelle Sabb, the children’s mother said Wednesday in an interview. “Because there are a lot of kids, Trayvon [Martin] — he didn’t make it home. What if my son wouldn’t have made it home?”

The kids had gone to a local BP station to buy candy, something they do nearly every day, Sabb told WFTV9. The path they took is one neighborhood kids use all the time.

Reidnauer and van Besien told deputies they thought the kids were using methamphetamine and claimed they fired warning shots “to prevent them from breaking into a house,” according to detectives.

The 16-year-old told the men he and his sister were walking home and Reidnauer responded by allegedly firing “one shot from a handgun into the ground near where he and his sister were standing,” according to the affidavit. That’s when van Besien used the racist slur and fired another bullet close to the girl’s foot.

As the kids ran home, Reidnauer allegedly yelled: “Get out of here n****rs!” When they got home they told their mom what had happened. Sabb immediately called the police. The two men were arrested just after 10 p.m. on enhanced hate crime charges of aggravated assault with a firearm, deputies say.

Van Besien is also charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon for allegedly using a shotgun since Florida is not an open carry state. But he denies using a shotgun and described the children as “black or brown guy with a white girl.” However, in a report, the responding deputy wrote: “he then changed his story saying he never actually got a good look at the people because he was quite a distance away.”

Both men deny using racial slurs.

At the scene, deputies retrieved a shell casing that matches Reidnauer’s handgun.

The men were booked into the Lake County Jail shortly after midnight March 18 and are being held on $200,000 bond.

And this isn’t the first time the men have had run-ins with law enforcement.

Court records show Reidnauer was previously arrested in 2016 for domestic abuse of a disabled adult, according to records.

Van Besien, an Iowa native, has been arrested four other times in the county since 2015 his charging documents say. Among the crimes listed: battery, violation of protection order, domestic battery by strangulation, witness tampering, and robbery with a firearm. The Daily Beast reports it isn’t clear if the cases have been resolved.

This video has more information.

Featured image by WFTV9 video