Man arrested on suspicion of alleged trolley hate crime attack
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Police late Tuesday afternoon arrested a 26-year-old man described as a hate crime suspect who allegedly used a racial epithet during a recorded attack on a 17-year-old Syrian refugee while the two rode a San Diego trolley.
Adrian Vergara was arrested by Port of San Diego harbor police for an alleged misdemeanor narcotics violation, according to San Diego Police Department Lt. Shawn Takeuchi.
“During the arrest, Vergara was recognized as being wanted in connection to the SDPD hate crime investigation,” Takeuchi said.
San Diego police were notified and took custody of Vergara and he was booked into jail with a tentative arraignment on Thursday, the lieutenant said.
The 17-year-old told authorities he was on his way home from school last Tuesday afternoon when the assailant approached him on the light-rail tram and asked if he was Mexican.
When the teen identified himself as Arabic, the man began shouting anti-Arab and Islamophobic slurs and attacked him, according to the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Following the assault, which left the victim with facial injuries, the assailant got off the trolley at 62nd Street in Encanto.
Detectives tracked down video images that “corroborated what the boy reported about the attack,” Takeuchi said.
The assault occurred nine days after a man was arrested in Little Italy for allegedly shoving Muslim women in hijabs and telling them to “go back to (their) country.”