Couple arrested on suspicion of hate crime, vandalism after video captured racist confrontation in Torrance

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Gregory Howell, a 29-year-old from Carson, and Rachel Howell, a 29-year-old from Seal Beach, are seen in booking photos released by the Torrance Police Department on July 31, 2020.

Gregory Howell, a 29-year-old from Carson, and Rachel Howell, a 29-year-old from Seal Beach, are seen in booking photos released by the Torrance Police Department on July 31, 2020.

A married couple was taken into custody Friday after a racist rant and act of vandalism in Torrance last week was caught on cellphone video.

Gregory Howell, a 29-year-old from Carson, and Rachel Howell, a 29-year-old from Seal Beach, were captured on camera on July 22 as a road rage incident culminated into a confrontation, the Torrance Police Department said in a news release.

Itzel Lopez told KTLA last week that she and her boyfriend were going home after a birthday dinner when they noticed two people in a pickup truck driving behind them for several minutes. As they approached a red light at the intersection of Artesia Boulevard and Prairie Avenue around 10:30 p.m., the truck got in front of them, police said.

Both Howells then got out of their truck and approached the car Lopez was in, which is when she started recording on her phone.

Gregory Howell can be heard yelling “white power” while doing a Nazi salute in front of Lopez’s boyfriend, who is Black. Rachel Howell is heard yelled “Only white lives matter,” along with profanities.

“We tried to get away. She kept standing in front of the car, and wouldn’t let us leave,” Lopez said.

Then Gregory grabbed a shovel from his truck and hit their car as Lopez’s boyfriend drove away, police said. The couple later determined that Rachel also damaged the driver’s side mirror.

The victims filed a hate crime and vandalism report with Torrance police the following day on July 23, the department said.

“We were just in shock. We didn’t know what was going on,” Lopez told KTLA. “Never in my life did I think I was gonna experience this. It’s actually really scary. They don’t even know you and they’re willing to hurt you.”

On July 24, investigators obtained arrest warrants for both Howells for hate crimes and vandalism, according to police. After locating the pair a week later, the couple was arrested Friday.

“We want to get justice because it’s not right,” Lopez said last week. “I don’t want them to just go freely and continue to do this to someone else.”

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