WICHITA, Kansas - A Kansas man was arrested last weekend after witnesses told police he kicked a 1-year-old boy and hurled racial slurs at the toddler and his family.
Trace Adam Riff, 31, was arrested Sunday on suspicion of ethnic intimidation, battery and resisting arrest, The Wichita Eagle reported. He was released from the Sedgewick County Jail that afternoon on bail of $3,500.
The grandmother and mother of the victim, who is black, told the Eagle they worry that Riff could attack someone else’s child.
“I don’t understand,” Yolanda Frierson, the grandmother of Jhavii Fry, told the newspaper. “He’s out just hours after he attacked a baby.”
The Eagle reported that Jhavii’s mother, Lashantai Whitaker, told the newspaper she was walking just ahead of her 11-year-old daughter, who was holding Jhavii’s hand, as the trio made their way into a Dillons grocery store around 7:20 a.m. Sunday. Suddenly, she heard her daughter yell that someone had kicked the little boy.
“It happened so fast,” the pregnant mother said.
Whitaker said she heard a thud and turned to see her son face-down on the ground. A white man, later identified as Riff, had kicked him in the back with his cowboy boot, according to witnesses.
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Riff then began hurling racial epithets and said he was a white supremacist, Whitaker told the newspaper.
“He sounded like a madman,” Whitaker said.
Riff attempted to leave the scene, but bystanders tackled him and held him until police officers arrived, the Eagle reported.
Whitaker praised the bystanders on Facebook, where she wrote that they did everything possible to ensure that she and her children were all right after the incident. Managers of the store also visited Whitaker’s family at home, bringing Christmas gifts.
“I’m still in a daze, because it could have went so many different ways,” Whitaker wrote. “He could have had a weapon.
“It just reminds you of how scary it is to raise black children. Makes you want to keep your children sheltered and in a bubble.”
The Wichita Police Department confirmed the incident in a statement Thursday, in which officials said detectives were investigating the racially motivated crime.
“Through the investigation it was learned (Riff) walked into the Dillons store and kicked a 1-year-old victim in the back, causing the child to fall on the floor, while yelling obscenities and racial slurs,” the department’s statement said. “(Riff) was booked for battery that was bias and racially motivated, as well as resist(ing) arrest.”
Sunday’s incident was the second time in two days that Riff had an encounter with police. The Eagle reported that he was charged the day before with suspicion of illegal inhalation, or huffing, of chemicals.
Riff has a criminal history dating back to when he was 15, the newspaper reported. According to a 2002 report from The Oklahoman, Riff was charged following a high-speed chase in a stolen car.
In the years since, Riff has been convicted of multiple DUIs, as well as domestic abuse charges in Oklahoma and Nevada, the Eagle reported. His last conviction in Oklahoma, for which he remains on probation, was a methamphetamine case in 2015, Oklahoma Department of Corrections records show.
He was arrested in April 2016 in Wichita for assaulting a police officer, the newspaper said.Records obtained by the Eagle show that Riff spent the following two years in and out of jail and a mental facility.
Whitaker, who expressed frustration online about Riff’s release, told the newspaper that she worries that other children are in danger of being attacked like her son, who she said had “never cried or screamed that loud” prior to Riff’s attack. Paramedics were called to Dillons to look him over, but Jhavii was saved from injury by the thick coat he was wearing.
She described Riff’s actions to KWCH as a “sneak attack” and said she was still shocked that it happened.
“What grown person, I mean, even if you do have that much hate for someone, I mean, why would you attack a baby?" Whitaker told the news station.
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