U.S. Citizen Attacked With Battery Acid For 'Invading' America

Police are investigating a hate crime case after a white male suspect threw battery acid on a Hispanic man in Milwaukee, saying "Why did you come here and invade my country?"

The unidentified 61-year-old attacker was arrested and charges are expected on Tuesday.

Mahud Villalaz, 42, said the attack happened after a man confronted him on Friday night in a parking lot. The man was angry over how Villalaz had parked his truck and also accused him of being in the United States illegally, reports The Oregonian.

Villalaz is a U.S. citizen who immigrated from Peru as a young man.

According to an Anti-Defamation League report on extremism, this attack comes during a spike in hate crimes directed at immigrants that is tied to mainstream political rhetoric.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett conveyed his disgust at the attack, in part blaming President Donald Trump for inciting hatred against minorities with his consistent speeches and tweets spreading anti-immigrant zeal among his supporters.

"To single out someone because they're from a Hispanic origin is simply wrong. And we know what's happening," Barrett said at a brief City Hall news conference.

"Everybody knows what's happening. It's because the president is talking about it on a daily basis that people feel they have license to go after Hispanic people. And it's wrong," he said.

"You don't begin a conversation with a racial slur and end it by throwing acid in someone's face," Barrett continued. "This is not what happens in a just society."

U.S. Representative Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) said she was "horrified to learn about this violent act of hate" and thanked the Milwaukee Police Department for acting quickly.

"No person should feel vulnerable because of their ethnicity or identity," Moore said in a statement. "The bigotry and hatred driving the nationwide rise in hate crimes aims to sow division, but Milwaukee will not stand for it. Instead, we must continue to embrace and love our neighbors."

"The fabric of our communities is strengthened by our diversity, which makes Milwaukee such a special place to live."

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"To suggest that because the tone of his skin that he needs to leave this country, that's not America, that's not the America I know or that we should know," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Bennett. David Prahl/Getty

Villalaz was heading into a Mexican restaurant for dinner when the man approached him and said, "You cannot park here. You are doing something illegal." Villalaz said the man also accused him of "invading the country."

He ended up moving his truck to another block, but when he returned to the restaurant, the man was waiting for him with an open bottle.

Villalaz said the man accused him again of being in the U.S. illegally. He responded that he was a citizen and that "everybody came from somewhere else here."

That's when the man tossed acid at him, which was caught on surveillance video. Villalaz turned his head quickly so the liquid covered the left side of his face.

The victim's sister told the Associated Press on Monday that Villalaz was recovering but in shock, and that he believes the man was prepared and wanted to attack someone.