A man who attacked a Muslim family outside an Edmonton mosque was sentenced last month to 90 days in jail, court records show.
Jeffrey Ryan Hill, 34, pleaded guilty on April 6 to mischief and uttering threats for threatening a Muslim woman and her four children in the parking lot of northeast Edmonton’s Al Ameen mosque on New Year’s Day 2022.
The incident was one of more than a dozen alleged “hate-motivated” crimes in Edmonton since December 2020.
Judge Carrie Sharpe sentenced Hill to 90 days in jail at the suggestion of the Crown, followed by a year of probation including anger management classes.
Sharpe denied Hill’s request to serve the sentence on weekends, saying it would fail to properly denounce his “disturbing” behaviour. She noted he threatened a complete stranger outside her place of worship de ella and damaged her vehicle de ella while she and her children de ella were trapped inside de ella.
‘You f—ing Muslims’
The events began at 9:35 am, on Jan. 1, while the mother waited outside Al Ameen mosque to pick up her four children — aged 5 to 11 — from Qur’an class
As the children climbed into the SUV, Hill approached, walked to the front passenger side window and spat on it, saying “f— you, you f—ing Muslims,” Crown prosecutor Marty Gillingwater told court April 6, according to a transcript. Hill then punched the windshield, causing it to crack.
“He remained outside the vehicle and continued to scream profanities toward (the victim), as (well) as her children, who were terrified in the vehicle,” Gillingwater said.
Hill then left the parking lot while the woman called police. He returned carrying a metal snow shovel. Terrified, the woman drove away but was chased by Hill into a dead-end cul-de-sac, where he waited at the entrance.
Police arrived and found Hill with the shovel in his hand. As an officer took his arm from him to cuff him, Hill said “if you grab my left hand I’m going to punch you in the face.”
Hill told court he is an unemployed fabricator and lives alone. He said he does not pay rent and has no dependents.
“I’m just kind of in like, a cloud,” he told court.
“OK,” Sharpe replied.
“Life is kind of — feels like nothing,” he added.
“Do you have any mental health diagnoses?” Sharpe asked.
Hill’s reply was not audible on the court recording.
‘Don’t want to go to jail at all’
Edmonton has seen a rash of allegedly hate-motivated crimes since December 2020, when a hijabi woman and her daughter were attacked in the parking lot of Southgate Center mall.
Police in Edmonton and St. Albert issued public statements on 11 allegedly hate-motivated crimes between December 2020 and February 2022, the majority against Black and/or Muslim women.
In all but two of those cases, the accused were homeless or of no fixed address and dealing with mental health and addiction issues. Several of the accused are Indigenous and had family members who attended residential schools.
City police revealed last week charges in another six allegedly hate-motivated incidents, half of which involved Black men allegedly attacked on Alberta Avenue.
The Southgate Center attack occurred Dec. 8, 2020, when Richard Bradley Stevens approached a Black Muslim mother and daughter as they sat in their car. Stevens — who pleaded guilty to assault and mischief last month — began to punch the passenger side window while yelling racial slurs and telling the women to “go back to their country.” After his arrest of him, he hurled racial slurs at a police officer of East Asian descent.
Stevens’ case is being dealt with in mental health court and was recently added to Oct. 17 for the preparation of reports on his mental state.
Hill’s offense was the first of the latest string of incidents to occur at a mosque. He had no prior criminal record, but also admitted to threatening a man after driving his Subaru into his truck in a McDonald’s parking lot the year before.
“You’re lucky I hit your car and not your face,” Hill told the other driver before leaving.
Hill accepted the 90-day sentence but told court: “I’ve had brief experiences with jail and I don’t wish to return.”
After his release, Hill has been ordered to stay away from the victims and the mosque, which according to court records is a block from his home.
Asked by Sharpe whether he had anything he wished to add, Hill uttered a single word: “sorry.”