A photo of a pickup truck with a racial slur painted across the back window went viral over the weekend, with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts weighing in. Ricketts said the image, taken in Lincoln on Saturday, showed something "disgusting" and "hateful." Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor said it was a "horrific" act of racism. Many social media users were of the same opinion. As the photo spread online, they used public records to identify the truck owner as 21-year-old Austin J. Cordis of Ohiowa. Cordis, his former partner, and their 15-month-old child have all received death threats in the aftermath, per the Lincoln Journal Star. Cordis says those threats are misplaced. "It's something someone else did," he tells the Omaha World-Herald. But a witness disagrees.
Cordis claims he was the victim of vandalism while parked at the Gateway Mall on Saturday afternoon. He says he returned to his truck after 20 minutes to find the slur painted in red, white, and blue letters, over a second line reading "Trump 2020." He also says he saw other vehicles that were "marked up." But Brittany Struble tells the World-Herald that she saw Cordis arrive at the mall with the message already on his truck. She says he was "smiling" as she confronted him and left the mall without ever entering it. The Lincoln Police Department adds it received no reports of vehicle vandalism on Saturday. Neither did mall security, per the Journal Star. Cordis says it's possible an enemy might be trying to make his legal problems stemming from a marijuana growing operation worse. "I don't know, but I don't even vote," he says. (Read more racism stories.)