A white man recently released from prison has been charged with murder after he allegedly slit the throat of a black teen because he felt "unsafe" hearing the young man's rap music, authorities said.
Michael Paul Adams, 27, walked into a Circle K convenience store in Arizona and stabbed Elijah Al-Amin, 17, who was standing at the soda machine, police said.
Adams told detectives that "rap music made him feel unsafe because in the past, he was attacked by people who listened to that music genre," and that he needed to "protect himself and the community" from the victim, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by the Peoria Police Department.
He had been released from the Arizona State Prison Complex in Yuma two days before the attack, his lawyer said. At Adams' bail hearing, Jacie Cotterell said her client had been "set up for failure" following his release because he needed psychiatric counseling but didn't have a way to get it.
Adams had been imprisoned for being convicted of assault.
Civil rights advocates, using the hashtag #JusticeforElijah, have demanded the killing being investigated as a hate crime.
"Michael Adams walked up to a black teen, Elijah Al-Amin, as he stood at the soda machine and slit his throat b/c he felt threatened by the music he listened to in his car," posted Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Michael Adams walked up to a Black teen, Elijah Al-Amin, as he stood at the soda machine and slit his throat b/c he felt threatened by the music he listened to in his car.— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) July 8, 2019
This murder is a hate crime that MUST be investigated by DOJ. #JusticeForElijah https://t.co/wt5zPcCGml
The attack occurred about 1:42 a.m. on Thursday, police said. Police said Adams told them he felt threatened by the rap music the teen had been playing in the parking lot. "Adams felt he needed to be 'proactive rather reactive,'" the affidavit said, according to KPHO-TV.
The teen staggered to the gas pumps and was found face down, police said. Adams was arrested near the station, after police saw him walking with blood on his clothes and carrying a pocket knife, the documents said.
Adams acknowledged stabbing the young man, police said, saying Al-Amin "did not do anything to to threaten him," according to the affidavit.
Adams is being held in lieu of $1 million bail. A preliminary is scheduled for July 15. He has not entered a plea.