New York: The son of a police chief in a Californian city is among two teenagers arrested and charged with attempted robbery and abuse of a 71-year-old Sikh man on Monday, the second attack on a minority community member in the US state within a week, authorities said.
The investigators are trying to determine if the attack was a hate crime. Police arrested 18-year-old Tyrone McAllister and a 16-year-old male juvenile on Wednesday for the attack on Sahib Singh Natt on the side of a road early morning on August 6 in Manteca.
McAllister, the son of Union City Police Chief Darryl McAllister, and the juvenile have been charged with attempted robbery, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon.
The Manteca Police Department said it received numerous tips which assisted in the identification of the suspects. Investigations Supervisor sergeant Miller said the public assistance in providing information with this case was instrumental in identifying the suspects and helped in making a quick arrest.
Meanwhile, McAllister's father posted a statement on the Facebook page of the Union City Police department saying he is “completely disgusted” to find out that one of the suspects in this “horrific crime” is his son. He said his son has been “estranged” from his family and home for several months now.
“Words can barely describe how embarrassed, dejected, and hurt my wife, daughters, and I feel right now. Violence and hatred is not what we have taught our children; intolerance for others is not even in our vocabulary, let alone our values," the senior McAllister said in the statement.
He said it is difficult for his family to comprehend how one of his three kids, raised with the same values and character, wandered so far astray.
"In the eyes of the public, no matter the irrelevance to the incident, the fact remains that the father of the perpetrator of this despicable crime is a police chief, period,” he said.
Disturbing footage from a surveillance camera shows Natt walking alone on the side of a road early morning on August 6 when two men, wearing hoodies, walking from the opposite direction approach him. Natt stops on seeing the men and the duo are seen talking to him. Natt then walks past them but they continue to follow and talk with him.
After a brief argument, one of the men, who is wearing a black hoodie, suddenly kicks Natt in the stomach and the elderly man falls down on the road, with his turban coming off. He tries to get up and defend himself but the man again kicks him in the stomach. Natt falls on the road as the man who attacked him comes close to him and appears to touch his face and spit on him. They then walk away as Natt is lying on the road. A few seconds later the man in the black hoodie runs back and viciously kicks Natt three times near his head as he lay on the street. He then starts leaving again, pauses, turns around, and then spits at Natt.
The police chief said his “stomach has been churning” from the moment he learned the news of the attack on Natt and that his son was involved. He also said his son began to lose his way a couple years ago, while he was a juvenile, running away and getting involved in a bad crowd.
“He got into trouble for some theft-related crimes and ended up spending several months in juvenile hall,” the senior McAllister said, adding that his son was again arrested for a theft-related incident, and he ended up spending another three months in adult jail as a result.
"Since being released he has been wayward and has not returned to our family home for several months," he said.
The police chief said he and his wife worked with Manteca Police to help them track their son down and arrest him.
“He now faces serious felony charges…My family is shaken to the core," he said.
The attack on Natt is the second on a Sikh man within a week in California. On July 31, 50-year-old Surjit Malhi was attacked while putting up campaign signs in support of incumbent Republican Congressman Jeff Denham and other local Republican candidates at Stanislaus County.
While beating Malhi, the attackers yelled "Go back to your country!” and spray painted the same message, along with hate symbols, on his truck.
Sikh advocacy group The Sikh Coalition has urged members of the community to remain vigilant and report cases of bias, bigotry and backlash in the wake of the attacks.
“We are deeply troubled by these two attacks and strongly encourage increased vigilance nationwide as we work to support the Central Valley, CA community during this difficult time,” Sikh Coalition legal director Amrith Kaur said.
“If you or someone you know has experienced a potential hate crime, please reach out to our team. We have a seasoned team of lawyers who can provide free legal advice and support you through the process to protect your rights,” she said.
The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) also condemned the attack on Natt.
"We stand in solidarity with the Sikh community against the bigotry and racism that fuels hate crimes like this one nationwide. These kinds of incidents are becoming increasingly common under the Trump administration and are direct attacks on religious liberty in the US," CAIR-Sacramento Valley's executive director Basim Elkarra said.
In the past, CAIR had stood in solidarity with communities of various faiths and backgrounds that are subject to hate crimes.