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Landlord sentenced to prison for threatening to shoot Black tenants

Douglas Matthew Gurkins faced a 10-year sentence, but was only sentenced to 28 months.

Douglas Matthew Gurkins Pitt County Detention Center

A North Carolina landlord has been sentenced to prison for threatening to shoot his Black renters, according to reports.

In December 2014, Douglas Matthew Gurkins drove to the home of an African American family in Greenville, yelled racial slurs at them and told them they did not “belong there.” He “threatened to shoot” the family’s four minor children as well as all other Black people that came onto their property. He then “brandished” a metal rod at the renters, prompting them to move out of the home.

Gurkins — who reportedly made similar threats to two other families — has been charged with “communicating threats” on four different occasions as well as with “stalking” and “trespassing,” and larceny, none of which he served any time for.

In August, Gurkins pleaded guilty to one count of criminal interference with the Fair Housing Act and faced a sentence of up to 10 years, but once again, he’s managed to walk away with a slap on the wrist. Gurkins was only sentenced to 28 months, which will be followed by three years of supervised release. The maximum penalty also includes a $250,000 fine, but there was no mention of him being fined.

“Part of what makes the United States free is the guarantee that we can live anywhere in this country without regard to the color of our skin and without murderous threats directed at us and our children,” Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Eric Dreiband said in a statement.

“This defendant terrorized an entire family by threatening to kill African American parents and their four children and others because of their race. This kind of cruel terror has no place in the United States of America, and the U.S. Department of Justice will remain vigilant in prosecuting anyone who interferes with any families’ housing rights.”

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