NEVADA: Carson City District Court sentenced Drayton resident Travis Mickelson to 11 to 34 years in prison on Thursday in what was tried and prosecuted as Carson City’s first hate crime.
In November of 2018, Mickelson was convicted by a jury in Judge James Russell’s court of attempted murder with hate crime enhancements, as well as battery and assault with a deadly weapon.
In 2017, Mickelson shot more than a dozen rounds into a vehicle occupied by five Sikh men visiting the area, injuring one.
It took the jury less than three hours to convict Mickelson on all four charges, which were: Attempted murder, battery with a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly weapon and discharge of a firearm into an occupied vehicle.
Sentencing was originally scheduled for December 31, 2018, but had been pushed back several times until the sentencing took place Thursday.
Using offensive language, Travis Mickelson claimed he had shot into the vehicle because men he thought were Muslims had looked at his wife in a way that “creeped her out.”
He further stated he believed the men were going to run him off the road and rape his wife, which, he claimed, was happening throughout the country.
The five men in the vehicle, who are of the Sikh faith, not the Muslim faith, with family from India and not the Middle East, said they had no idea what had happened the night. They were driving on Highway 50 East and attempted to pass a Dodge van that was in the slow lane when Mickelson opened fire between 2 and 4 feet of the vehicle, hitting it multiple times, including through windows, with one of the bullets striking Harmandeep Singh Shergill in the torso area.
“I wish I would have killed one of them,” Mickelson was heard telling a family member during a recorded phone call the morning after the shooting.
“Based on the color of their skin and the language they were speaking, Mr. Mickelson decided these men were Muslim terrorists,” said Carson City’s Prosecuting Attorney Melanie Brantingham. “You heard it in his own words. He was convicted of attempted murder by a jury, with a hate crime enhancement. He still maintains he was acting in self-defense.”
Tensions flared between defense and prosecution regarding a claim that Mickelson had been a model inmate during the year and a half at the jail.
Brantingham rebutted this claim with an email provided to the court, which stated that in his time spent in the Carson City Jail, Mickelson had been written up multiple times for having contraband, misusing phone privileges, and more.
“This shows that Mr. Mickelson will do what he wants, when he wants,” she said. “Who’s to say he won’t get a gun just because he’s not supposed to?”
“The hate and the violence shown in this crime were frankly shocking,” said Brantingham. “What makes him deserving of any breaks? There’s nothing that should say to you if he got out he wouldn’t do the same thing again.”
Brantingham asked for Mickelson to be sentenced on the hate crime enhancement of the crime for attempted murder instead of the deadly weapon enhancement, as only one could be used.
“The gun was the instrument used,” she said. “Hate was the reason.”
On Count One, attempted murder, Mickelson was sentenced to a minimum of 36 months and a maximum of 120 months, with a consecutive hate crime enhancement sentencing of 36 – 120 months.
On Count Two, battery with a deadly weapon, he was sentenced to a minimum of 32 months and a maximum of 84 months with a consecutive deadly weapon enhancement of 32 – 84 months to run consecutive.
For Count Three, assault with a deadly weapon, a minimum of 12 months with a maximum of 48 months with a deadly weapon enhancement, both of which will run concurrent with counts one and two.
Count Four, discharge of a firearm into an occupied vehicle, he was sentenced to a minimum of 12 months with a maximum of 48, which will also run concurrent to counts one and two.
In total, Travis Mickelson (pictured below) is facing 34 years in prison.
“I’m very very pleased with the District Attorney’s Office. This is a small community. We don’t see or tolerate this kind of crime. It was very aggressive, very hateful with no justification other than pure hate,” said Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong regarding Thursday’s sentencing.