Plumber Might Have Been Victim Of Hate Crime
Marin City man arrested in incident
Tad Whitaker, Marin Independent Journal (CA), May 28, 2004
Kirk Willworth of Novato has been on some tough calls as a Roto-Rooter employee, but none worse than the one in Marin City on Wednesday night.
The 36-year-old was summoned to repair a flooded apartment in a public housing complex at 11 p.m., only to have a group of men standing outside accuse him of being an undercover police officer.
That’s when one man — and his pit bull, Chopper — launched an attack, police said.
“I’m still shaking,” Willworth said. “That’s one thing I never expected.”
Dion Ray Moore, 27, of Marin City was arrested and booked into Marin County Jail on suspicion of armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the incident.
Yesterday, officials with the district attorney’s office determined that they will prosecute the case as a hate crime, Marin County sheriff’s Sgt. Doug Pittman said. The determination was made based in part on the account of racial remarks made during the incident, officials said.
Moore, also wanted on a felony warrant for possession of an illegal weapon, was held last night without bail.
Chopper was taken away by the Marin Humane Society.
The suspect “actually used the dog to attack the Roto-Rooter man,” Pittman said. “The guy was still with the dog when we found him.”
Willworth said he was walking toward the entrance to an apartment building at 35 Cole Drive when a group of six to eight men rushed toward him, shouting and swearing because he was a “white man.”
Willworth said the man with the pit bull began to frisk him for a wire — an electronic recording device worn by police to tape illegal activities — and fumbled with his two cell phones and wallet.
Willworth said he threw the cell phones and wallet in his van and got inside, but the dog and his owner followed.
The dog “didn’t get my skin but it got a mouthful of my pants,” he said. “That’s when the guy attacked me.”
Willworth said the man tried to punch him in the face, but each time he was able to duck so that the blows struck him in the top of the head. At the same time, he was worried about the rest of the group because someone was pointing something that looked like a gun.
At some point someone told the man to step back. That’s when Willworth grabbed the dog, threw it out of the van and drove off before calling 911.
Willworth said he used to work frequently in Marin City, but those days are over.
“I’m never going back there again,” he said. “Ever.”
Pittman said Roto-Rooter employees asked for, and received, an escort back to the apartment yesterday.
“They still had the call to take care of,” he said.