Suspect Charged With Hate Crime in Acid Attack on Hispanic Man

A 61-year-old white man is accused of calling a Peruvian-born U.S. citizen an “illegal” and throwing acid at him outside a…

A 61-year-old white man who is accused of splashing acid on a Hispanic man’s face and telling him to “go back” to his country has been charged with a hate crime by prosecutors in Milwaukee.

The prosecutors also filed charges of first-degree reckless injury and use of a dangerous weapon against the suspect, Clifton Blackwell, on Wednesday. He faces up to 35 years in prison and $105,000 in fines.

According to charging documents, the episode began on Friday night when Mr. Blackwell yelled at Mahud Villalaz, 42, for parking too close to a bus stop, saying, “Why did you invade my country” and “Why don’t you respect my laws?”

Mr. Villalaz moved his truck and walked toward the restaurant’s entrance, prosecutors say, but Mr. Blackwell continued to berate him, calling him an “illegal” before splashing him in the face with a bottle of acid. A surveillance camera caught the attack on video.

Mr. Villalaz received second-degree burns on his face and third-degree burns on his neck, as well as irritation to his left eye.

Wisconsin state law allows an additional fine of $5,000 and a maximum of five more years in jail for felonies in which the perpetrator selects a victim based on national origin, “whether or not the actor’s belief or perception was correct.” Mr. Villalaz, who was born in Peru, became a United States citizen in 2013.

A search of Mr. Blackwell’s home recovered muriatic acid, four bottles of sulfuric acid and two bottles of lye-based drain opener, the police said.

In an interview this week, Mr. Villalaz said he had stopped after work to get carne asada and carnitas tacos at La Sierrita, in a majority-Hispanic neighborhood south of downtown Milwaukee, when he was attacked. “I don’t know the guy, and he did that to me” Mr. Villalaz said. “Who carries a bottle of acid?”

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