SANTA CRUZ -- Santa Cruz police arrested a Kern County man early Saturday morning on suspicion of battery and brandishing and possessing a firearm in connection with what police determined to be a hate crime.
John Smith, 38, of Taft, was booked into County Jail after he allegedly punched another man in the face in the 100 block of Walnut Avenue and called the man a racial epithet, Lt. Warren Barry said.
Police were called to the area at 2:30 a.m. for a fight involving four people, one of whom had a knife. A man told police he was talking with three males and asked for a ride home, Barry said.
One of them punched him before getting into a truck with a camper shell with the other two men and leaving. Police found the truck a few blocks away and found two men in the cab and Smith lying in the truck bed, Barry said.
"Smith and one other occupant were donning clothing and apparel indicating membership with the Hells Angels," Barry said.
A loaded 9mm pistol was located in the back of the truck along with a knife.
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