SAN DIEGO — Police Tuesday arrested a 26-year-old man suspected of attacking a teenage Syrian refugee and using a racial slur on a trolley last week, authorities said.
When officers with the Port of San Diego Harbor Police Department were arresting Adrian Vergara for an unrelated misdemeanor narcotic charge, they recognized him as being wanted in connection to the hate crime investigation, according to Lt. Shawn Takeuchi. San Diego police then arrived to arrest Vergara and book him into jail.
On Thursday, a police spokesman said detectives were reviewing video footage that corroborates the alleged victim’s report.
The 17-year-old victim told authorities he was on his way home from school Tuesday afternoon when the assailant approached him on the light-rail tram and asked if he was Mexican.
When the teen identified himself as Arabic, the man began shouting anti-Arab and Islamophobic slurs and attacked him, according to the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Following the assault, which left the victim with facial injuries, the assailant got off the trolley at 62nd Street in Encanto.
Detectives investigating the case, which has been classified as a suspected hate crime, have tracked down video images that “substantiate the victim’s statement,” San Diego police Sgt. Matthew Botkin said.
No suspects in the case have been publicly identified.
“MTS is fully cooperating with SDPD’s investigation into the reported attack,” MTS spokesperson Mark Olson said.
The assault occurred nine days after a man was arrested in Little Italy for allegedly shoving Muslim women in hijabs and telling them to “go back to (their) country.”
Vergara is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.
Anyone with information about the case should call Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477 and reference SDPD Case No. 19-043468.