A man who admitted to trying to kill a Black man in an unprovoked attack at an Arby’s restaurant pleaded guilty Thursday, federal officials say.
Nolan Levi Strauss, 27, pleaded guilty to a hate crime involving an attempt to kill following the 2019 incident. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The stabbing occurred December 2019 at an Arby’s within the Pilot Travel Center in Ontario, Oregon. A 48-year-old Black man came to the restaurant to give documentation for a job application, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Strauss entered the restaurant and approached the man, who was sitting in a booth by himself with his back facing Strauss, officials say.
“Suddenly, unprovoked and without warning, Strauss stabbed the man twice in the neck,” the Department of Justice said. “The man tried to grab Strauss’s hands and take the knife, and, in the process, managed to prevent Strauss from stabbing him again.”
The victim broke free from Strauss’s grip and collapsed on the other side of the restaurant. A maintenance worker, who had directed Strauss to drop his knife, used a belt to secure his hands behind his back before police arrived, federal officials said.
Asked by the worker why he stabbed the man, Strauss replied, “Because he was Black, and I don’t like Black people,” federal officials said. After being arrested at the scene, he allegedly said he was trying to kill the man “because he was Black.”
The victim was flown to a hospital in Boise, Idaho, where he received emergency surgery for his stab wounds.
Scott Erik Asphaug, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, said the incident is a “horrifying reminder that racism and bigotry still exist.”
“Everyone deserves to go to work without fearing they will be a victim of violence because of how they look or how they live,” added Kieran L. Ramsey, special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon. “ Racist attacks like this one — powered by hate and grounded in ignorance — strike at the heart of our community. We should all draw strength from our diversity and work together to protect our neighbors.”
Strauss will be sentenced Sept. 9.