Man Accused of Yelling Racial Slurs at 2 People, Threatening Them in Anaheim Faces Prison Time

A man who allegedly threatened and yelled racial slurs at two people in a car in Anaheim has been charged with hate crime, officials announced Friday.

Joel Thomas Rookey, a 56-year-old transient, faced up to eight years and four months in prison after prosecutors charged him with one felony count each of assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm, criminal threats and hate crime with present ability to commit violent injury.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office said it also filed misdemeanor charges of brandishing a weapon and violation of civil rights with a sentencing enhancement for hate crime.

Rookey was accused of approaching two men in their vehicle on Sept. 25 and proceeding to scream obscenities that refer to the victims’ countries of origin, the DA’s Office said.

The assailant then swung a screwdriver at one of the men and threatened to kill him, prosecutors alleged. Anaheim police officers found Rookey later that day with a sharpened screwdriver and arrested him, the DA’s Office said.

Rookey’s pre-trial hearing was scheduled to be held at the North Justice Center in Fullerton for Oct. 5.

Authorities did not provide any further information about the case.