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FBI: West Allis man charged with hate crime slashed tires, threatened Black neighbors

Hate crime charges against William A. McDonald allege he repeatedly targeted neighbors with vandalism, racial slurs

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Crime scene tape
Police tape cordons off a crime scene in Philadelphia on Dec. 14, 2018. Matt Rourke/AP Photo

A West Allis man authorities say terrorized his Black neighbors by slashing their tires, shattering their windshield and leaving threatening notes is facing federal hate crime charges.

William A. McDonald, 44, repeatedly vandalized the property of neighbors in his apartment complex, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in federal court.

On consecutive days in March 2021, authorities say he slashed one victim’s tires and then broke the same victim’s windshield. On the second day, he left a note threatening to slash the victim’s throat, which ended “GET THE F— BACK TO THE NORTHSIDE WHERE YOU BELONG,” followed by a racial slur.

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The criminal complaint includes accounts from eight other victims of McDonald’s aggression, all of whom lived within about a mile of each other in West Allis, a predominately white Milwaukee suburb. They include:

  • Slashing the tires and leaving a similar note filled with racial epithets and threats on the car of a Puerto Rican parent of a Black son.
  • Slashing ties and leaving a note on a Black neighbor’s car telling them to get out of the neighborhood amid profanities and a racial slur.
  • Writing a racial epithet in black pen on the front door of a victim’s apartment, and placing a threatening note under her door.

FBI agents used video surveillance footage to catch McDonald cutting the tires of one victim’s car and leaving a note under the windshield wiper. Identifying that vehicle, a 2007 Ford Five Hundred, led them to McDonald. They said his handwriting matched the handwriting in the six hate notes he left, and phone tracking data placed him at the scene of the crimes.

When authorities searched his apartment and vehicle, they found a handwritten note inside a sandwich bag that included still more threats and racial slurs.

“So I’m getting arrested for a note that you found in my car?” McDonald asked investigators, according to the complaint.

McDonald was previously arrested for keying a vehicle that belonged to his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, according to the complaint. He also was suspected of damaging windshields on vehicles at a car dealership where he worked. State court records show a person with the same name and birthday was charged in a hit-and-run crash in 2003.

McDonald is charged with criminal interference with the right to fair housing, a federal crime under civil rights statutes. He faces up to one year in prison.

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