The Department of Justice has charged a 32-year-old man on hate crime charges. On Monday, Christopher Beckham was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and lying to the FBI. Beckham was arrested on Friday evening, and appeared before a U.S. Magistrate judge today.
According to the indictment, on or about Oct. 24, 2017, Beckham saw two teenage girls wearing hijabs and cried out “Allahu Akbar!” and “Go back to your country!” He allegedly attacked the girls’ father by swinging a knife and punching at him, while also shouting at the family. Then, on or about March 12, 2018, Beckham allegedly made a false claim to FBI special agents that he saw the girls trying to break into cars. He also allegedly said that he never swung a knife at their father; and that, after he pulled out his knife, the girls yelled “Allahu Akbar!,” and then either one or both of them hit him on the back of the head.
Beckham faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison if convicted on the hate crime charge, followed by three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. He also faces a charge of making false statements to the FBI, which provides for a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sara Beth Myers of the Middle District of Tennessee and Trial Attorneys Christine M. Siscaretti and Rachel Kincaid of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
Local authorities also charged Beckham. Beckham was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and two counts of misdemeanor assault. He was booked on a $20,000 bond