Man charged with vandalism, hate crime in caught-on-video Torrance attack

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Gregory Howell is seen in a booking photo released by the Torrance Police Department on July 31, 2020.

Gregory Howell is seen in a booking photo released by the Torrance Police Department on July 31, 2020.

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A man faces vandalism and hate crime charges in connection with a caught-on-video attack against two people in Torrance earlier this year, officials announced Monday. 

Gregory Edward Howell, 29, of Carson, was charged with one count of assault with a deadly weapon — a shovel —  and a special hate crime allegation, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

The incident occurred on July 22, when Howell and his wife, Rachel Howell, were involved in a verbal altercation with two other people at the intersection of Prairie Avenue and Artesia Boulevard. 

He allegedly got out of his vehicle and struck the victims’ vehicle with a large shovel several times. 

One of the victims, Itzel Lopez, told KTLA that she and her boyfriend were going home after a birthday dinner when they noticed two people in a pickup driving behind them for several minutes. 

As they approached the intersection, the truck got in front of them. 

That’s when the Howells got out of their truck and approached the car Lopez was in, and the victim began recording on her phone. 

Gregory Howell can be heard in the video yelling “white power” while doing a Nazi salute in front of Lopez’s boyfriend, who is Black. 

Rachel Howell is also heard yelling, “Only white lives matter,” along with profanities. 

Lopez said she and her boyfriend tried to get away, but Rachel Howell was standing in front of the car. 

At one point, Gregory Howell grabbed a shovel from his truck and hit the couple’s car, as Lopez’s boyfriend drove away. 

“We were just in shock. We didn’t know what was going on,” Lopez said. 

Arrest warrants were issued for the Howells on July 24, and they were arrested a week later after they were located. 

Rachel Howell, however, was not charged in connection with the incident.

The case against her was “declined due to insufficient evidence,” DA spokesman Greg Risling told KTLA on Monday.

Gregory Howell is scheduled to be arraigned Monday, and prosecutors are recommending that bail be set at $75,000. 

He could face a maximum sentence of more than seven years in prison if convicted as charged. 

The incident remains under investigation by Torrance police. 

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