A car dealership job applicant who was rejected because of problems with his references is charged with a hate crime in Benton County for allegedly sending threatening texts to the sales manager.

Ezequiel Rivera Jr. knew the victim is Muslim when he sent the messages talking about “AMERICA these days” and Allah, according to court documents.

The victim, who was acquainted with Rivera from working in the industry, believed the threats were serious enough to get a temporary restraining order, documents said.

Rivera, 38, of Pasco, is ordered to appear Dec. 4 in Benton County Superior Court for malicious harassment, a felony.

The charge involves the use of ethnic and/or religious slurs and threats of harm because of “perception of the person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation,” or mental, physical or sensory handicap.

Sadik Reka, a sales manager at McCurley Integrity Honda on Fowler Street, called police to the Richland dealership on Oct. 29 after receiving concerning text messages, court documents said.

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Reka was responsible for an employment application completed by Rivera, and had to turn him down because of issues with his references, documents said.

The sales manager said that led to text messages saying: “Hey bro how have you been?? You walk with a crutch these days!?? It’s all about AMERICA these dayz!!!! Listen here you worthless [expletive]!!! You better pray to your [expletives] God Alla you don’t run into me!!!!! [Expletive] you and whatever you believe in!!!! Zeke Rivera!!!!! PUNK [expletive]!!! I can’t wait to [expletive] u up!!! For real bro I’m gonna [expletive] YOU!!!!”

Reka told Richland police that he believed the threats and feared for his own safety and that of his family and was not sure of his ability to protect all of them, court documents said.

Online records show Reka was granted an anti-harassment order against Rivera, but the case was resolved with a court order after a hearing in early November.

Rivera was contacted over the phone by an officer and “did not deny the threats, but stated they were not meant to be taken seriously,” documents said.