2 men jailed for hate crime

Saturday, September 27th 2008, 11:39 pm
By: News 9

By Jacqueline Sit, NEWS 9

WOODWARD COUNTY, Okla. -- Two men were arrested Saturday for burning a cross in a neighborhood several weeks ago.

"When it first happened, I didn't get much sleep, trying to sit up and watch the house, watch the family and stuff. It's unreal," neighbor Nazaree Critten said.

But the hate crime was real and happened not too far from Critten's home. Just down the street, a cross lays on a charred pit in the backyard of 19-year-old Ronald Phillpott and 20-year-old Dillan Hager.

Phillpott and Hager were arrested for burning the cross and they face hate crime charges.

"20, 30 years ago maybe, but not now," Critten said.

Bradley believes the hate crime was targeted towards several African American families in the neighborhood.

"The neighbor next door is an interracial couple and it could easily be seen from their yard," Sheriff Bradley said.

Critten and his family moved to Woodward County from Arkansas several years ago and have never faced so much hate.

"I like everyone, nice people here," Critten said. "It's hard to say that, but it's just a fact of life that there's going to be a racial problem."

Sheriff Bradley said this is the first hate crime he's witnessed.

The senseless crime has shocked many and shaken up this normally close-knit neighborhood.

"We thought things like this was a thing of the past," Sheriff Bradley said. "We believed things like this didn't happen anymore, but we were wrong."

The FBI joined the ongoing investigation of the hate crime and more charges could be filed.