A white supremacist kills an African-American teen as he was charging his phone in front of a 7-Eleven in Gresham, Oregon, and the story has sparked a national conversation. Larnell Bruce, 19, was visiting his biological mother and brother in the state when his young life ended on August 10.
Bruce was joined by a group of friends outside the convenience store on the corner of East Burnside where they were “hanging out.” At one point, the teenager left his pals to charge his cell phone, and he encountered 38-year-old Russell Courtier.
It is not known why nor who started it, but a massive fight broke out between the two men, and a knife or machete was used. Witnesses saw Courtier violently punching and smashing Bruce’s head into the front window.
Bruce attempted to run away from the fight, but Courtier, who has a lengthy rap sheet, had other plans. Courtier, a well-known white supremacist, got into his red 1991 Jeep Wrangler and went after the young man.
Several witnesses said they heard Courtier’s girlfriend, Colleen Hunt, 35, encourage him, saying: “Get him, baby, get him.” Courtier was driving with Hunt in the passenger seat.
Courtier first tried to run over the teen in the parking lot and missed. Bruce tried to stay alive by running to the sidewalk, but the Jeep Wrangler hit him head-on and left him with critical injuries.
Several 911 calls were made around 11 PM during the fight and police rapidly arrived at the scene. Bruce was rushed to the hospital but died of his injuries four days later. The Mercury dug up the white supremacist’s past and here is what they unearthed:
“Courtier has spent a significant chunk of his adult life in Oregon prisons for weapons and violent crimes. (He was on parole the night he killed Bruce, following a prison term for attacking a woman with a knife in 2013.) Courtier is also a long-time member of a white supremacist prison gang called European Kindred (EK).
EK began in 1998 at the Snake River Correctional Institution (SRCI) in Malheur County. Its founder, David Kennedy, wanted “to protect our own people in this joint,” the Southern Poverty Law Center quoted him as saying. The gang would soon spread to Oregon’s other prisons.
Courtier’s prison records revealed just how deeply the man came to identify with the group.
He first connected with the gang while serving several years at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton following a 2001 attack on a man, the records show. By September 2003, Courtier was caught in his cell with a drawing of the gang’s logo—a shield emblazoned with letters “EK”—that he admitted he intended to get tattooed on his body (he was found to have violated the prison’s “unauthorized organization” rule, because EK is a known “security threat group”).”
On August 18, a grand jury indicted Courtier and Hunt for murder, but they have not been charged with a hate crime. Family and friends recently gathered to remember Larnell Bruce, who would have turned 20 on September 1.
They have also started a GoFundMe page to raise funds for medical bills and his funeral expenses.
On August 10, 2016, Larnell Malik Bruce (aka Bubba/ Man-Man) was intentionally run over by a car. He sustained life-threatening injuries to his skull and brain stem. On August 13, 2016, his brain activity ceased. We lost our son, brother, cousin, nephew, and friend to a senseless crime. He was just 19 years old and still had a full life to live.
Although his body still breathes, he is no longer here with us and we are left to take care of the things we weren’t fully prepared for. Throughout the last few days, the medical expenses have gotten unexpectedly high and we now have to plan for a funeral that we weren’t expecting.
Though this tragedy has devastated our family, Larnell has the opportunity to save many lives through the Organ Donor program.
We are asking for help to cover the funeral and medical expenses. Please, if you can, find it in your heart to help us lay our loved one to rest.
The country was shocked by the incident, and it opened a new front in the debate about race.
Friends/family light candles @ vigil 4 Larnell Bruce. Teen who was run down & murdered by a couple accord. 2 police pic.twitter.com/uqEjHU84UL
— Andrew Dymburt (@DymburtNews) September 2, 2016