A teen has been arrested and faces a hate crime charge in connection to an attack on a 70-year-old Sikh man in Queens, police said.
Vernon Douglas was arrested Thursday after investigators said he approached the victim, who was dressed in tradition Sikh clothing, and punched him in the face unprovoked just before 7 p.m. near 95th Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard in Richmond Hill on April 3.
The victim, identified by the Sikh Coalition as Nirmal Singh, suffered a broken nose and bruises to his face.
Douglas, 19, faces a slew of charges including hate crime assault, robbery, and aggravated harassment. Attorney information for the Brooklyn teen was not immediately available.
The Sikh Coalition said that Singh chose to return to India after the attack in order to be with his family.
"My father is very grateful that his attacker has been identified and arrested so that he cannot harm others," Manjit Singh, the victim's son who lives in Canada, said in a statement provided by the Sikh Coalition. "Our family sees this sad incident as an assault not just on him, but on all who wear turbans and other articles of faith."
New York State Assembly member Jenifer Rajkumar tweeted on Thursday that another man was also arrested for an attack on two other Sikh men, Gurjar Singh and Sanijan Singh Ghotra. The two men were assaulted in separate attacks on Tuesday — in the same place as the other victim.
Activist Japneet Singh, who led a rally on Thursday to denounce the violence against the Sikh community, said that Gurjar Singh was attacked from behind while walking, and the attacker removed his turban and pulled his beard.
"This hate does not belong in our city, does not belong in our state, does not belong in our country," Japneet Singh said.
Ghotra said that a man hit him in the head with a stick, and also had his turban knocked off. He said he was knocked to the ground as a second man joined in the attack.
Police have not confirmed that an arrest has been been in those attacks, or said if they believe Douglas was involved in all three incidents.