Four Racist Skinheads Arrested for Hate Crimes in Phoenix

  • December 17, 2008

Phoenix police officers arrested four racist skinheads in connection with two violent hate crimes.

Officers arrested Chad James Kerns, 30; Preston Clay Onion, 23; Doolin Eugene Onion, 20; and Jamie Michael Lyon, 20, all of Phoenix, on December 10, 2008, for their suspected involvement with two hate crime assaults occurring in 2007.

According to authorities, the suspects were each charged with two counts of aggravated assault, one count of leading or participating in a criminal street gang and one count of leading or assisting in a criminal street gang.

In the first incident, a 23-year-old Hispanic male and a 22-year-old white female were allegedly attacked and beaten by the suspects at a Phoenix bar in March 2007.  At the time of the incident the male victim was wearing an anti-racist t-shirt depicting a stick figure throwing a swastika into a garbage can.  The suspects reportedly uttered "white power" comments before hitting the male victim in the head with a barstool and punching the woman in the face. 

The second incident involved the stabbing of a 32-year-old African American male at a Phoenix convenience store in June 2007, and was captured in part by the store surveillance video. The victim and the suspects were all inside the store making purchases when a verbal altercation arose in which racial slurs were allegedly directed toward the victim.  The suspects left but later returned and allegedly severely beat the victim, in what law enforcement are referring to as a "boot stomping."  Kerns, who served ten years for a prior felony conviction for armed robbery, allegedly stabbed the victim twice in the abdomen.  The victim required surgery to repair his injuries.

The Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism, which monitors racist skinhead activities, was previously familiar with Kerns and assisted police with the investigation.  Kerns is a long-time white supremacist, covered with racist tattoos, who has been associated with the racist and anti-Semitic Creativity Movement.  

The arrests were the culmination of an investigation by the Major Offender Bureau of the Phoenix Police Department and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

The investigation is ongoing and more arrests may be forthcoming.


On August 14, 2009, a judge in Maricopa County sentenced long time white supremacist and racist skinhead Chad Kerns to ten years in prison.

On July 15, Kerns pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault for two violent hate crimes committed in 2007. 

A fifth man arrested in connection to the incidents, Aaron Smith, was sentenced on July 14, 2009, to five years after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and assisting a criminal street gang.