PAOLA — An investigation by the Paola Police Department into a reported hate crime has now turned into a federal indictment against a Paola man.
The Justice Department announced Monday, Nov. 23, that a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Kan., returned an indictment charging Colton Donner, 25, with threatening an African-American male juvenile because of the victim’s race and because the victim was living in a home in Paola, according to a news release from the office of United States Attorney Stephen Mcallister.
For a separate incident, Donner was charged with unlawfully possessing a firearm while being a convicted felon, according to the release.
The indictment alleges that Donner shouted racial slurs and brandished a knife, a dangerous weapon, at the victim in Paola. The indictment further alleges that Donner, knowing he was a convicted felon, possessed .44 caliber revolver.
“Our office will protect the federal rights of all people, regardless of race, to live peacefully in Paola or anywhere else in Kansas,” McAllister said. “Freedom of speech does not give anyone license to wield a weapon and threaten others because of race. Racial intimidation must have no place in America and cannot be tolerated or ignored.”
An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Donner faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for both the civil rights and firearm charges, according to the release.
Paola Police Chief Don Poore said the incident was reported on Sept. 11, 2019, and Capt. Kevin Colwell has led the investigation with the help of multiple patrol officers and detectives.
The incident was initially investigated as an aggravated assault, but Paola police officials contacted the FBI to pursue the federal charge.
The Kansas City Field Office of the FBI investigated.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tris Hunt of the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of Kansas and Trial Attorney Anita Channapati of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section, according to the release.