Man seeking job is repeatedly stabbed at Ontario truck stop in hate crime, police report

ONTARIO – A man who recently moved to the area from North Carolina was stabbed Saturday morning at the Arby’s Restaurant inside Ontario’s Pilot Travel Center on East Idaho Avenue in what police said was a hate crime.

The Ontario Police Department said in a press release Saturday evening that Ronnell Hughes, 48, was seeking a job when he was attacked “without provocation or communication.”

The attacker struck Hughes around 9:40 a.m. as he sat inside the restaurant. Hughes “suffered slash and stab wounds to his neck area and attempted to fend off the attack.”

Police said “several employees” intervened and subdued the attacker without getting injured.

Hughes, who is black, was taken to an undisclosed Idaho hospital, where he was reported in stable condition.

Police arrested Nolan L. Strauss, 26, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and identified him as a truck driver for May Trucking Co. He was lodged in the Malheur County Jail and faces charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault and first-degree bias crime.

Nolan L. Strauss, 26, accused of attacking a man in an Ontario restaurant on Saturday, Dec. 21. (Photo courtesy Malheur County Sheriff’s Office)

The release said Strauss, who is white, and Hughes didn’t know each other.

“The motive for the attack leans heavily towards a racially motivated crime,” the Ontario press release said.

Bias crime, a felony, is a relatively new charge in Oregon, passed by the 2019 Legislature. Multnomah County prosecutors recently won the state’s first conviction for that crime. Bias crime involves “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes physical injury to another person because of the person’s perception of the other person’s race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or national origin,” according to state law.

Contact Les Zaitz: [email protected]