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Boise Police: Suspect arrested after driving car at people, yelling homophobic slurs, also connected to other crimes

A Boise man that faces three counts of felony aggravated assault has now been charged with arson in connection to the LGBTQIA+ flag burning on Brumback Street.

BOISE, Idaho — A 31-year-old Boise man faces three counts of felony aggravated assault after police say he yelled homophobic slurs and tried to hit three people with his car on two separate occasions. 

According to the Boise Police Department (BPD), Matthew Lehigh hit a person in the arm and used a homophobic slur on South Capitol Boulevard near Julia Davis Park on Oct. 8. 

When a security guard followed Lehigh into a parking lot, he drove his car toward the guard before driving away, BPD said. On Wednesday around 2 p.m., BPD said Lehigh yelled a homophobic threat and slur at two women on Americana Boulevard between Kathryn Albertson and Ann Morrison parks.

Lehigh also intentionally drove his vehicle towards the women as they were standing next to it, before hitting another vehicle and driving away, BPD said in a news release. Boise Police said the women were not hurt. 

Following the incident, officers began searching for Lehigh and his vehicle. He was found by detectives with the Violent Crime Unit in a parking lot off West Fairview Avenue around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to BPD's release.

Lehigh was booked into the Ada County Jail and charged with three felony counts of aggravated assault and misdemeanor injury to property. 

Boise Police said evidence shows Lehigh could be involved in other recent crimes targeting the LGBTQ+ community, prompting detectives to continue their investigation. 

As of Friday, Lehigh has been charged with arson in connection to an incident on Brumbrack Street where an LGBTQA flag was burned, according to BPD LGBTQ Liaison officer Dan Lister.

“Since his arrest, we've been able to add additional charges of arson in relation to the flag burning that occurred... And we're continuing our investigation with other recent incidents of targeting. But we have been able to add that charge on to him for the incident that occurred there," Lister said.

Lehigh also faced two charges in Oregon for assault, as well as two charges of 'menacing' and criminal trespassing, according to court records.

Lister was able to confirm the existence of Lehigh's YouTube channel, which shows posts just days before his arrest. His videos show him using threatening language against the LGBTQIA+ community, specifically gay and transgender citizens.

Lehigh will not be charged with a hate crime, however.

Malicious harassment is essentially the hate crime statute in Idaho, however, this arrest doesn’t fit the wording of the Idaho statute.

Idaho code 18-7902 says malicious harassment targeting includes a, “Person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin.” Targeting someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity is not included in the law. Police cannot arrest for it specifically and prosecutors can’t charge, because of how the law is written.

Lehigh was ordered a competency evaluation by the Ada County court. He has a preliminary trial on Oct. 26.

If you have any information or if you have been a victim, call Crime Stoppers at 208-343-COPS. 

Boise Police also encourage contacting Ada County Dispatch at 208-377-6790, or contacting LGBTQ Liaison Officer Dan Lister at dlister@cityofboise.org.

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