Driver faces hate crime charges after police say he targeted couple

A Louisiana man has been arrested and booked on charges including committing a hate crime after he allegedly accelerated his truck toward an interracial couple in a suburban New Orleans parking lot, according to the local sheriff’s office.

James Descant, who is white, is accused of driving his vehicle toward a black man and a white woman in a convenience store’s parking lot around 9 p.m. Tuesday in Metairie, said Capt. Jason Rivarde of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The vehicle hit the woman, causing injuries to her hip, wrist and foot.

Descant allegedly attacked the couple because he was upset about their interracial relationship, Rivarde told CNN. The couple — a black man and a white woman — told police they had interacted with Descant at a local motel within a week of the incident.

Descant was arrested Wednesday and charged with aggravated second-degree battery, aggravated assault, damaging property and hate crimes, records show. He is being held at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center.

CNN was unable to immediately determine whether Descant is represented by an attorney.

Descant’s arrest comes weeks after the burning of three historically black churches in Louisiana captured the nation’s attention. The suspect in that case pleaded not guilty this week to hate crimes and arson charges.