A Black mother in Hammond, Indiana, says she and her three children have been terrorized by their next-door neighbor who once stabbed their dog and has repeatedly made them the target of his racist harassment.
Dawn McDowell posted video earlier this month of her neighbor, Richard Dean Wojtas, shouting the N-word from his porch and warning her that the “KKK is coming, n—-s.” Now, local authorities said they’re investigating.
McDowell, 40, told Yahoo Lifestyle that Wojtas as been harassing her with physical threats and racist taunts since August 2017. On one occasion, the mother of three said he even threatened her with a shotgun.
“We live behind a radio station, and one night, he started running from his home to the parking lot yelling, ‘I hate you [N-word], you gang bangers…,” McDowell recalled. “When he came outside again holding a brown paper bag, I called the police.”
The local mother, who works at PetCo, said their feud took a disturbing turn when Wojtas stabbed her pit bull in October 2017. She said she received a frantic phone call from her eldest daughter urging her to come home, and later arrived to find her 5-year-old dog Sasha in her neighbor’s yard with a knife poking from her back.
“It was a terrible thing,” she told WGN9 of the frightening incident. “I had never seen nothing like that in my life. For him to do what he did to her, it was just a horrible hate crime, just a horrible hate crime.”
Sasha had allegedly wandered into Wojtas’ yard and attacked one of his dogs. That’s when he repeatedly took a hammer to the pit bull’s head and stabbed her eight times in an effort to break up the fight and save his own pets.
McDowell’s dog survived, but she said the attack left her family fearful for their safety.
Wojtas took McDowell to court last January over his medical bills and injuries he sustained in the dog fight, Yahoo Lifestyle reported. Prior to their court date, however, McDowell said her neighbor threatened her yet again. She recalled the moment she saw Wojtas step out on his porch and load his shotgun.
“He was yelling that he was going to kill my dog, so I took his photo and called the police,” she said.
McDowell said authorities charged her neighbor with felony intimidation and jailed him for a short period of time. He was also slapped with a no-contact order, according to an affidavit from the Hammond Police Department.
The charges weren’t enough for Wojtas to abandon his racist antics, however.
McDowell said she’d finally had enough after she arrived home from work earlier this month and was met with a barrage of hateful, racist and threatening language.
When racism is living right next door to you..
Posted by Dawn McDowell on Thursday, January 10, 2019
“He came out hollering, ‘I hate you F-ing N-words. You N-words are going to die,” she told WGN9. ‘The KKK is coming.’ So I get out of the car and walked around my ramp and pulled out my phone. And I just stood around and started videoing him.”
Local detectives worked to determine if Wojtas was in violation of the protection order and whether he intimidated the single working mother again.
“He has violated that order, and based on recent remarks he made in video, Hammond police detectives are investigating the crimes and deciding if filing additional charges is an option at this time,” police Lt. Steve Kellogg said in a statement. “Detectives are working closely with the victim to ensure that everything possible is done to stop this criminal behavior.”
Wojtas’ attorney, Shane O’Donnell, painted an entirely different picture of his client, whom he described as a “law-abiding citizen.”
“He had every right to be outside and have a legally obtained shotgun, for which he has a valid license for,” O’Donnell told The Times of Northwest Indiana, claiming Wojtas had the gun as protection against McDowell’s dogs. “Because [McDowell] doesn’t like my client, she called the police and said he threatened her with the gun, which isn’t true.”
The single mother, who was ordered to pay Wojtas $3,482.70 after a judge found her dog at fault, said she and her children are terrified of Wojtas but won’t be run out of their own neighborhood.
“I’m a very family-oriented person, and I moved out here because I heard nothing but good about Hammond and it being family-oriented and the mayor and what he does for the community,” she told the newspaper. “I like it here. I don’t have any plans of going anywhere else, and I refuse to let somebody like him just run me out.”
Watch more in the video below.