Florida Man May Face Hate Crime Charge For Attack On Men Perceived To Be Muslim

News

A 60-year-old man was arrested Wednesday (May 23) after he allegedly attacked men he believed were Muslim with a knife and stun gun during an alcohol-fueled altercation.

According to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, John Jay Smith initiated a verbal altercation with two men eating outside of a St. Augustine, Fla., McDonald’s. Smith reportedly approached the victims with a switchblade/automatic knife yelling at them to “get out of my country you do not deserve to eat here” and “get the f**k out of here you don’t deserve American food.” The assailant then came to their vehicle and threatened them with a stun gun that he called his “zapper.”

Officers say the catalyst for this racist rhetoric was that the suspect alleges his son was a Marine that was killed during combat in Afghanistan and that Smith believed the men were either Muslim or Middle Eastern. When placed under arrest, the intoxicated Smith repeatedly told police “they killed my son” and “my son was a Marine.”

This claim was confirmed by a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office, Chuck Mulligan, who told First Coast News that Smith approached the victims due to the passenger’s perceived religion. Mulligan also said that in addition to the felony accounts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, burglary with assault or battery, and trespassing, hate crime charges could be added per a decision from the State’s Attorney’s Office.