Sunday, January 18, 2009

Beating suspect sought - Attack on two men seen as possible hate crime



Seattle police are looking for a man who became so enraged when he heard someone speaking a language other than English that he attacked him and a friend.

The attack happened around 3:15 p.m. Monday in the 8800 block of Rainier Avenue South, according to a police report.

The victims, described by police as African men, were in a store near Rainier and South Henderson Street when one of them received a phone call. The man stepped outside to talk on his cell phone.

While he was talking on the phone, he heard a man stopped in traffic yell at him to "speak English," according to the report. Police described the attacker only as a man who drove a dark-blue Chevrolet pickup truck.

The victim "tried to tell him he didn't speak English very well and that seemed to anger the suspect," the report stated.

The man in the pickup pulled out of traffic, got out of his truck, calling the victim a Muslim using a slur and told him to "go back home."

The victim tried to walk away, but the pickup driver continued to insult him, at one point reportedly saying, "I'll kill all of you."

The driver then grabbed the victim by the front of his shirt and punched him twice when the man tried to flee. The victim was hit in the shoulder and was able to block the second blow.

His friend inside the store saw the tussle and when he came out to break it up, he was punched in the eye.

Again, the attacker threatened to kill the men and headed for his truck.

Neither of the men was seriously hurt.

As he was preparing to leave, the attacker saw a bystander who appeared to be jotting down the license plate number on his truck, so he yelled at that man, then sped off when told police officers were on their way.

Police did not release the license plate number of the truck.

The case is being investigated as malicious harassment, the state's hate crime law.

The most recent statistics on the number of hate crimes are from 2007. Statewide, there were 104 such cases reported.

Seattle police documented 79 cases in 2006 and 2007, but a report by the Seattle City Auditor's Office released in August suggests the number of hate crimes are actually underreported.

P-I reporter Hector Castro can be reached at 206-448-8334 or

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