Leesburg (WTFF) – A brother and sister walking home from a convenience store were shot at and called racial slurs by two men last week, according to police.
30-year-old James Robert Reidnauer and 33-year-old Brent Edward Van Besien are facing aggravated assault hate crime charges as a result of the reported March 17th incident.
According to the arrest affidavits, the victims, a 16-year-old boy and his 12-year-old sister, took a walk to the nearby BP that Sunday.
On their way back home, they took a familiar shortcut through a church property they use every day to catch the bus.
“They were confronted by two white men who asked what they are doing,” reads the report. Both kids are biracial, a mix of black and white.
The boy told the men they were just walking home.
That’s when Reidnauer fired a shot into the ground using a handgun.
“What are you doing?” asked the boy.
Van Besien called him a “nigger fuckboy” and then “fired one round from a shotgun” near the two kids, according to the arrest affidavit.
“Run!” the victim told his sister, “Call 911!”
The two kids “fled on foot back to their residence” as Reidnauer yelled:
“Get out of here niggers!”
Both victims gave identical accounts. Neither were harmed.
Deputies arrested the two men and interviewed them.
Reidnauer claims he saw “two meth heads walking through the area” who were “acting suspiciously.”
He told the deputy he “fired a warning shot at them,” describing the two as “a ‘brown guy’ and a white girl” who were in their 20s or 30s.
The deputy reports that during the interview, Reidnauer was openly carrying a .40 caliber handgun on his right side.
“Was a shotgun involved?” asked the arresting officer.
No, “only his handgun,” Reidnauer claimed.
Van Besien was interviewed as well.
He also claimed they were confronted by two “meth heads,” and that Reidnauer fire a warning shot into the ground “to prevent them from breaking into a house.”
Van Besien described the two as “a black or brown guy and a white girl.”
The deputy writes, “he then changed his story saying he never actually got a good look at the people because he was quite a distance away.” Van Besien claims that Reidnauer was much closer than he was.
They both denied using racial slurs.
A spent .40 caliber shell casing was found along the path where the kids said the incident occurred. It was the same brand as the rounds in the handgun Reidnauer had in his possession. Deputies could not locate the shotgun used in the incident, nor the empty shell casing.
Both men were arrested.
James Robert Reidnauer is facing two charges of “Aggravated Assault with Firearm – Hate Crime.” His bond remains at $200,000. Reidnauer lives at the home where the incident took place, on Goose Prairie Rd.
He was was arrested in Astatula in 2016 for domestic abuse of a disabled adult.
Reidnauer is originally from Pennsylvania.
Brent Edward Van Besien is facing the same two “Aggravated Assault with Firearm – Hate Crime” charges, plus one charge of “Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon.” His bond remains at $225,000. Van Besien lives on Foxtree Lane in Tavares. He works in “sales,” according to the arrest data.
He was arrested four other times in Lake County since 2015 for crimes including battery, domestic battery by strangulation, violation of protection order, witness tampering, robbery with firearm and more.
Originally, Van Besien is from Iowa.
Update: charges were later dropped for both men in June 2019.