After returning from the store, the teens reported that the incident escalated. Burnham got a metal pipe from his Dodge Ram truck and rushed toward the vehicle.
“Somebody hit our window with a pole, we don’t know what type,” the victim said to the 911 dispatcher. “We don’t know what type of weapon it is but it was heavy and it shattered our window.”
“He hit us,” the caller added. “[And] we kind of like pulled. We tried to like pull out of the way so he couldn’t hit us again and my friend got out of the car to, like, say what are you doing and he tried to come back and hit us, so we left because we were scared.”
The three drove, hoping to get away from the attacker. However, he followed them for two miles in his truck.
Law enforcement officials investigated the scene observed the window was shattered on the passenger side of the 2022 Toyota Camry and the vehicle’s panels had several dents.
Burnham was arrested on Jan. 26, and initial charged with criminal mischief causing damage of $1,000 or more and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill. Those charges have been upgraded to a hate crime.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said on Jan. 22, the increase in charges was made because “an unprovoked, racially prejudiced attack on a car occupied by three high school students at a gas station in the Osteen area.”
However, Burnham disputes the charge. The 58-year-old claims the three high schoolers assaulted him and he was acting in retaliation to the young people shooting at him with an airsoft gun and threatening to kill him. But the officers noted that, unlike the teens, the elder white man didn’t call 911 and his story doesn’t line up like the teen’s story.