ONTARIO – Two teenage basketball players staying overnight in Ontario last week were threatened because they were black, resulting in the arrest of a 28-year-old transient for bias crimes, according to court and police records.

The transient, Tyler J. Duncan, also was accused of a bias crime and assault in connection with a fight on Ontario on Sept. 27.

Duncan was charged in Malheur County Circuit Court in both cases and is being held at the Malheur County Jail. He also is facing pending unrelated charges for theft and reckless burning.

He was charged with first-degree bias crime, fourth-degree assault and second-degree disorderly conduct for the Sept. 27 incident for assaulting a man because of his race.

“The physical altercation was triggered by comments that could be considered racially charged,” according to a statement from Ontario Police Chief Steven Romero.

Just before midnight on Friday, Oct. 9, Ontario police encountered a group behind a small strip mall on East Idaho Avenue.

According to an affidavit by Officer Aaron Phillips, two teenagers said they were staying at a downtown Ontario motel while traveling with a basketball team and were walking to the Pilot Travel Center. They said Duncan, who is Caucasian, told them to “keep walking,” using a racial slur. The teens are Black.

As they were returning to the motel, Duncan again confronted the two and one of the teenagers “squared off” with him.

“They told me that a fight was likely to occur but officers arrived before it could happen,” Phillips wrote.

Phillips said Duncan was arrested and taken to the Ontario Police Department. When officers readied to take Duncan to jail, “Mr. Duncan violently pulled away from me.” Phillips said he and Duncan fell, with the officer hitting his shoulder and back on a concrete bench.

In that case, Duncan has been charged with two counts of second-degree bias crime, resisting arrest and fourth-degree assault.

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