Public Safety

Cedar Rapids man threatened Black neighbor with machetes, racial slur, police say

Gary Knebel
Gary Knebel

CEDAR RAPIDS — A 45-year-old white man armed with two machetes is accused of threatening to kill his Black neighbor in southwest Cedar Rapids.

According to the criminal complaint, Gary A. Knebel faces charges of assault while displaying a dangerous weapon (hate crime), a felony, and first-degree harassment, an aggravated misdemeanor.

Officers were called to 2429 Eighth Ave. SW at 5:50 p.m. Tuesday where the caller said an armed white man was threatening a Black man.

Police said they found Knebel holding two machetes and screaming at his neighbor. Knebel dropped the machetes when officers arrived, police said.

Knebel told officers his 31-year-old Black neighbor “made racist comments toward him as he was attempting to remove a tree stump.”

He also said his neighbor had a knife, police said.

Police said a witness confirmed the neighbor had displayed a knife but only after Knebel displayed the two machetes.

The witness told police that Knebel went onto his neighbor’s property, while the neighbor stayed on his own property.


The witness heard Knebel say “I’ll kill you” to his neighbor and use a racial epithet.

The witness also heard Knebel tell his neighbor, “Step on my property, and I’ll kill you,” police said.

Police said Knebel was arrested, based on the witness’ account and officers seeing Knebel holding the machetes and screaming at his Black neighbor when they arrived.

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