California Man Holding Large Stick Throws Rocks at Muslim Men, Is Charged With Hate Crime

A man in Fremont, California, has become the first person in the city to be charged with a hate crime this year after allegedly throwing rocks at Muslim men.

John Mata, 55, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, brandishing a weapon, commission of a hate crime and probation violation following an incident in the Sundale Drive area of the city at around midnight on June 20.

Fremont Police Department said they received a call from a man reporting the suspect was throwing rocks at his friend because he was wearing a Muslim cap. The alleged victims were talking in the parking lot of an apartment complex at the time.

The alleged victim said he saw Mata hiding behind a concrete wall after throwing the rocks, which narrowly missed his friend. The pair then hid for their safety before confronting the suspect verbally.

Eventually, the pair then walked behind the concrete wall, where they were met by Mata brandishing a wooden stick around four feet in length. The 55-year-old is accused of holding the stick in a threatening manner and telling the Muslim man something along the lines of "you are not allowed to be here," according to Fremont Police Department.

Mata is then alleged to have fled on a bicycle, with the two men following him in a car. During the pursuit, Mata is once again accused of brandishing a wooden stick and "holding it up in the air in a threatening manner and swinging it in their direction," narrowly missing the vehicle.

When officers arrived at the scene and began speaking to the two men, a third male approached and said he also had an encounter with the suspect. He said he was walking in the area while talking on his cellphone when a large unidentified object struck him on his upper body.

After running through the parking lot for his safety, he noticed the other two men confronting Mata. The third male told police he feels he was targeted in the unprovoked attack due to his ethnicity the fact he was wearing a traditional Muslim Kufi or Topi cap.

Following his arrest, officers learned Mata was on an active probation with a search clause for a prior assault with a deadly weapon incident. He has also previously been arrested several times for violent behavior. He was booked into the Fremont Detention facility and is due to appear in court on June 21 to face the charges.

Police confirmed that the incident was Fremont's only hate crime report so far this year.

"We take these matters seriously and I am proud of the swift and thorough investigation conducted by our patrol officers last night," Captain Fred Bobbitt said. "We want all Fremont residents to feel safe living in our community."

John Mata
John Mata was charged on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, brandishing a weapon and commission of a hate crime following the incident in Fremont, California. Fremont Police Department