SALT LAKE CITY — Criminal charges have been filed against a man accused of randomly attacking a pair of Hispanic men at a local tire store because they were from Mexico, court documents say.
Alan Dale Covington, 50, who is homeless, was charged Friday in 3rd District Court with aggravated assault, a second-degree felony; aggravated assault and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, third-degree felonies; drug possession, a class A misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor.
According to Veronica Lopez, her brother Luis Gustavo Lopez, 18, and her father Jose Lopez, 51, were at work eating breakfast on Nov. 27 and getting ready to open their tire store for the day when Covington entered and asked if they were Mexican.
"I … hate Mexicans. Are you in the Mexican mafia? Im here to kill a Mexican. I’m here to kill you guys,” Lopez said Convington told the group.
Charging documents say Covington went into Lopez Tires, 1621 S. Main, stating "I'm going to kill someone" before swinging a "four-sided metal pole."
Veronica Lopez said her brother was struck in the head by the pole, knocking him to the floor. She said her father used his body to protect his son, absorbing blows in the back.
"If my dad hadn’t been there to shield my brother, my brother would have sustained those other blows to the face and I don’t know if he could have (survived) those injuries,” she said.
Luis Lopez was not responsive and was bleeding from his face when emergency crews arrived. He was taken to a local hospital where during a three-hour surgery a metal plate was put in place of his shattered cheek bone, according to his sister. The plate was also used to hold his eyeball in place, she said.
The family is hoping he'll make a full recovery.
Jose Lopez received eight stitches and numerous bruises on his back from blocking the blows to his son, Veronica Lopez said.
After he was arrested, Covington told Salt Lake police that "the Mexican Mafia had been after him since 2008" and he went to the tire store because "all of them know each other," the charges state.
He later reaffirmed that he went to the store because "the owners were from Mexico" and "he knew they were Mexican," according to the charges.
Covington has an extensive criminal history, court records show.
Veronica Lopez said she was told because of the way Utah statutes are written that with two felonies being filed against Covington, a hate crime charge cannot be filed. But to Lopez, there's no question that's what happened.
"There’s no other way to describe it. This was a hate crime," she said. "I don’t know how much more of a hate crime it has to be.”
Now Lopez hopes uthorities are able to keep Covington in jail so he doesn't have the chance to harm anyone else.2 comments on this story
"He was out to kill that day,” she said.
Lopez said her father and brother do not have health insurance. A GoFundme fundraiser was set up by a friend to help pay for their medical expenses.
"This is for Luis and his father, Jose. Let’s show them that there are WAY more good and kind people out there than the evil man that attacked them. All donations will help go to their medical bills and financial support while Luis is unable to work in the shop with his father," the site says.