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Man accused of intimidating Muslim couple says he did it out of 'fear and ignorance'

Rick Sorrell in an interview with KATU News on Monday,, July 10 (KATU News photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. – The man accused of threatening a Muslim couple, days after the deadly MAX stabbing, says he did it because of "fear and ignorance."

Portland police said 49-year-old Frederick Nolan Sorrell was arrested on Friday, July 7.

Bias crimes detectives investigated the incident in May, which led to an arrest warrant for Sorrell. Investigators said he made verbal threats to the couple and pointed his hand at them like a gun.

Court documents say he unlawfully, intentionally and because of his perception of the victims' race, color, religion and national origin, caused alarm by threatening to inflict serious physical injury upon them.

“I yelled at them, I said, 'Take that off. Go back to your country if you want to wear that.' Yes, I did,” Sorrell told KATU News after his court appearance Monday, adding he's never seen anyone in a burka before. "I've never seen where it’s [niqab]. I’ve seen other hijabs, colorful and I smile at them. I think they are very colorful and I don’t hate Muslims. I don’t have anything against Muslims. I was scared when I saw it."

As for the allegations that he pointed his hand to look like a gun, Sorrell said he was simply "pointing."

“It was pointing, like pointing to everyone else around me who I was yelling at, cause yeah, I probably looked like a raving lunatic. I have no doubt about that,” he said.

Sorrell then admitted the only thing he knows about the Muslim faith is what he sees and reads on media and social media. When asked why he did not take an opportunity to learn about the Muslim faith Sorrell said, “because of my ignorance.”

“Everything I see in black that is causing all these inflictions [sic] in the world like ISIS, Antifa, the face covered up, the KKK with their white hoods, I would have done the same thing. You don’t do that here,” he said. “I don’t hate you people. I’m just scared of some of the things I see. Like everything black like the Grim Ripper, it's affiliated with death.”

He's also accused of threatening to cause "substantial damage" to the victims' property. He says he's now afraid for his own life.

“If the victims want to sit down and talk. I would love to sit down and have an open conversation with them and have a very objective open mind,” said Sorrell. “[I'd] apologize. I just don’t know them and all I know is fear-based information.”

A judge ordered him to not have any contact with the victims. He's also not allowed to be on Facebook.

Sorell is no stranger to the law. Records show he was convicted of rape in Multnomah County in 2001.


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