Hayden man arrested for hate crime following fight with youth pastor

(STORY IMAGE:KHQ.COM)

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -On July 12, officers responded to a large fight at a Coeur d'Alene McDonald's. Court documents say a Hayden man was charged with battery and malicious harassment, which is considered a hate crime in Idaho, following an investigation by police. 

When officers arrived on scene, the fight had broken up, but witnesses were interviewed at the scene. 

The victim, Quezalcoatl Ceniceros, told police he was getting ice cream with his church youth group, when a man, later identified as Richard Sovenski, became confrontational with the young people waiting in line. Ceniceros and Sovenski began arguing inside the restaurant before they went outside to the parking lot.

According to the documents, Ceniceros told police Sovenski pushed him to the ground and punched him one time in the shoulder as he fell to the ground. He then took out his cell phone and recorded the rest of the incident on his phone.

Documents say the video shows Sovenski yelling and cursing at the group as well as calling one of them a 'half breed' The video also shows another man trying to intervene and yelling at the group, and making sexually suggestive gestures toward them. That man was identified in documents as Sovenski's son. 

Police at the scene of the fight also interviewed a member of the youth group who witnessed the fight. The witness told police she got involved in the confrontation when she saw her group leader on the ground in front of the McDonald's with Sovenski standing over him. That's when Sovenski called her a 'half breed', according to documents. She also told police she was afraid Sovenski might hit her. Another leader of the youth group confirmed the girl's story.

Officers on scene  also interviewed Sovenski's wife who told police the argument started because Sovenski thought members of the youth group were being rude and she was worried one of them would run into her. She was worried because she had just had surgery and her arm was in a sling, documents said. 

In a follow up interview with investigators, Ceniceros told police the argument started because he an the kids he was with are not from here and are of a different race. He told police he felt like he wasn't treated fairly as Sovenski called he and the kids names and slurs.

Another investigator rewatched the video Ceniceros recorded on his phone, and according to court documents, saw Sovenski say "That's why you don't come to Idaho, we're real [expletive] men here." and "Get the [expletive] out of Idaho."

Police say the statements by Sovenski qualifies as malicious harassment. 

In a follow-up interview with officers, Sovenski told police the kids at the McDonald's were being rude in line and he told them to learn some manners after one of them cut in line. Sovenski said an argument escalated and he stepped outside with Ceniceros. He said he thought Ceniceros was going to hit him so he pushed him, according to documents. According to Sovenski, he didn't push the man hard and he must have "tripped over his own feet."

When an officer asked him about yelling slurs at the group, he said he was only trying to "get the upper hand" in the argument and knew the comments would "get under their skin," documents said. Sovenski said after the argument he took a walk to cool off and ended up walking nearly all the way home. 

On Tuesday, Sovenski was arrested and booked into the Kootenai County Public Safety Building on charges of malicious harassment and battery. 

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