Metro Weekly

California man pleads guilty to hate crime charge for threatening gay roommates

Man pleaded guilty to threatening his roommates with a knife and a gun while yelling anti-gay slurs at them

Crime scene tape – Photo: Fer Gregory

A California man has pleaded guilty to threatening two gay roommates with a knife and slashing one of their car’s tires.

Joe Martin Rodriguez, 40, of Santa Ana, pleaded guilty last week to a felony count of criminal threats and a misdemeanor hate crime.

On July 4, Rodriguez grew angry when he wrongly believed one of his roommates was using the bathroom, according to Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

He pounded on the bathroom door, yelling anti-gay slurs and threatening to kill his roommates while wielding an 8- to 9-inch silver blade knife with a brown handle, reports the Southern California-based City News Service.

In the midst of his fit, Rodriguez allegedly pulled out a handgun and pointed it at his roommates while making more homophobic remarks and threatening to kill both of them. 

The victims called police, but Rodriguez left, slashing the tires of one of the victims’ car before getting into a car with a friend and driving away.

Police eventually located the car and pulled the men over, at which point Rodriguez attempted to escape. He was apprehended by police and charged. 

Rodriguez is next scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 16, 2020 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. 

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at

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