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3 are arrested in the stabbing of black man that officials call a hate crime

Investigators are calling the January stabbing of a black man a hate crime and have arrested three Latino men in connection with the slaying, a San Diego Sheriff’s Department official said Monday.

Hugh Pettigrew, 33, was walking home along Ammunition Road in Fallbrook when three men attacked and knifed him on Jan. 22 about 10:45 p.m., investigators said.

“After extensive investigation, we believe that the allegations support the charge that [Pettigrew] was targeted because of his race,” Lt. Kenn Nelson said.

The victim managed to walk a quarter-mile to the home of family members on Alturas Road, where he collapsed. He was taken to a hospital but succumbed to his injuries about two weeks later.

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Investigators believe Pettigrew was randomly targeted.

“We think it was a crime of opportunity,” Nelson said Monday. “They were in the area and they saw him.”

A security camera captured the attackers walking through the parking lot of a nearby Albertsons grocery store before hopping into a car. Nelson said the female driver is being considered a witness.

On Monday, Ryan Valdez, 18, was arrested without incident at a continuing education facility for adults in Fallbrook, Nelson said. Kevin Garcia, 21, and Tyler Dean, 25, were already in custody on unrelated charges. All three were booked on suspicion of murder, committing a hate crime and taking part in criminal gang activity.

Dean had been booked in March on charges including possessing methamphetamine, carrying a concealed dagger, resisting arrest and violating the terms of his community supervision, according to jail records. Garcia had been booked in February on suspicion of violating the conditions of his community supervision.

Nelson said all three men are documented gang members, and detectives suspect they committed the crime to benefit their gang. Detectives don’t believe Pettigrew was in a rival gang.

lyndsay.winkley@sduniontribune.com

Winkley writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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