A 55-year-old man has been charged with hate crime for calling a Sikh man ‘Osama’ and intentionally hitting him with pick-up truck and dragging his body along. He faces up to 25 years in prison, if convicted.
Queens district attorney Richard Brown said Joseph Caleca of Long Island was presently awaiting arraignment in the Queens criminal court on the charges of second-degree attempted murder as a hate crime, first-degree assault as a hate crime and leaving the scene without reporting.
Caleca had attacked Sandeep Singh (29), who was seriously injured when he was hit by the truck and dragged nearly 30 ft on a public street in Queens following an argument on July 30.
Caleca is “accused of an unprovoked attack that allegedly began with the defendant driving by the victim and his friends and yelling out a vile anti-Muslim insult. After an exchange of words, the defendant allegedly struck the victim intentionally with his vehicle and dragged his body along the street,” Brown said in a statement.
As per the charges, Sandeep and three of his friends were standing on the road when the truck being driven by Caleca approached the group. Caleca used abusive language against Sandeep, calling him “Osama. Go back to your country. ”Caleca then parked his truck and got out to confront Sandeep and his friends.
After an exchange of words, Caleca returned to his vehicle and drove head-on into Sandeep, causing his body to be caught on the vehicle’s undercarriage.
Caleca allegedly dragged Sandeep along the street until his body dislodged from the vehicle and then fled the scene.
Sandeep was taken to a local Queens hospital where he received treatment for his injuries, which included surgery for internal bleeding and several staples to his mid-section.
Just days after the attack on Sandeep, another Sikh man, Jaspreet Singh Batra, a medical scientist, and his mother were attacked by a group of teenagers who called him ‘Osama bin Laden’ in an apparent hate crime, sparking outrage among the community which demanded that violence against Sikhs must end.