A man in Milwaukee allegedly threw battery acid on another man’s face Friday night, police said, adding that it stemmed from an argument over a parking spot.
Mahud Villalaz, 42, suffered second-degree burns on his face, Fox 6 reported. Police did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment, but the Journal Sentinel reported officers were investigating the incident as a racially motivated hate crime.
Speaking before reporters Saturday, Villalaz said he no longer felt safe to go outside.
“I feel scared being an American citizen,” said Villalaz, adding that he’s a native of Peru who immigrated to the U.S. when he was young. “I feel scared that I cannot feel protected in my own country with my neighbors.”
Villalaz told reporters he’d parked near a Mexican restaurant for dinner around 8:30 p.m. Friday when a man from a nearby bus stop approached him and spoke to him in an anti-immigrant tone, the Journal Sentinel reported.
“He approached me with those hate words,” Villalaz said. “Go back to your country. You don’t belong here. This is my country.”
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Villalaz said the suspect had a “little bag he carried on the side.” The suspect pulled out a bottle, uncapped it and threw a substance on his face, Villalaz said.
The substance was so strong that it burned through his jacket and sweatshirt, Villalaz said. Police were searching for the attacker who has been described as a white man, approximately six feet tall with a medium build.
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Alderman Jose Perez, in a statement, called the incident a “heinous” offense and an act of “senseless violence.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.