Photo: John J. Mata
FREMONT — A homeless man with a history of violence was arrested on suspicion of assaulting three men because they are Muslim. These alleged hate crime assaults occurred during two separate incidents on June 20th.
The suspect now in custody, was previously arrested several times for violent assaults. Moreover, he was on supervised probation for an assault conviction at the time of his latest arrest.
These most recent incidents occurred near a construction site on the 39800 block of Sundale Drive. It was around midnight when two men were threatened by another man throwing rocks and brandishing a weapon.
One of the victims was nearly hit in the face with a rock. When they confronted the suspect verbally, the suspect began swinging a stick at them in a threatening manner.
After insulting the victims and saying something like “you don’t belong here,” the suspect fled on a bicycle. Both victims got into a car and followed the suspect from a safe distance and phoned the police.
Responding officers located a man matching the description of the suspect, near the intersection of Porter and Robin streets. While officers were investigating, a third victim showed up and reported having a similar encounter with the suspect.
The third victim was walking and talking on the phone, when an unidentified object struck him. The object thrown at him fell to the ground with a thud and the victim ran towards a parking lot.
From the parking lot, the third victim witnessed the confrontation between the suspect and the other two victims. The third victim was wearing a laced cap that many Muslim men wear. He told police he believed the suspect was motivated by hatred against Muslims.
A few minutes afterward, police arrested a local transient John J. Mata, 55, who remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail. Bond for release was set at $35,000.
Mata is scheduled to appear for a pretrial hearing on July 2. He faces three separate charges for assault with a deadly weapon. In addition, Mata is accused of committing a hate crime.