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A Belgrade man pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that accuse him of harassing and threatening a coworker because of his race and telling him “we kill people like you.”

Jim Daniels, 60, pleaded not guilty to felony malicious intimidation or harassment relating to civil or human rights. He appeared in Gallatin County District Court before Judge Rienne McElyea.

Daniels was released after the hearing and has posted bail.

The victim, who is Brazilian, worked with Daniels at Rent For Less and said the racial threats by Daniels started as comments about the color of his skin, court documents say. The threats eventually escalated into Daniels trying to provoke the victim into fighting and showing the victim his shotgun on several occasions.

In May, the victim told law enforcement that Daniels threatened and harassed him and his family at a local trailhead, court documents say.

The victim told a Gallatin County deputy that Daniels was a passenger in a passing car and said through the window, “In Montana, we kill people like you.”

Two witnesses corroborated hearing Daniels say something like “kill him” as they drove past the man, court documents say. One witness, who also works at Rent For Less, told police he’s heard Daniels make “racial type comments” toward the man before.

The victim told police that Daniels had showed him a shotgun on several occasions. Daniels told the victim the shotgun’s name was Betsy. The man said Daniels recently told him “someday you’re going to meet Betsy.”

Daniels admitted making racist comments toward the man, court documents say. Daniels told officers that he had harassed him for not being from America and told the victim several times “that’s now how we do things in America.”

On the day of the incident, Daniels said he and friends were going to ride trails on ATVs when they encountered the man “parked in the middle of the road.” Daniels said the comment was about the way the victim parked and that “that’s not how we do it in Montana.”

When confronted about the statement “in Montana, we kill people like you,” Daniels responded he may have said something like that, court documents say.

Daniels admitted he had shown the shotgun to the man, but denied it was to intimidate him, court documents say.

Police then confiscated the shotgun from Daniels’ work truck and arrested him.

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Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2630.

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