A man in Florida reportedly pulled a knife on two Muslim men outside a McDonald’s restaurant and told them to “get out of my country.”
John Jay Smith, 60, allegedly saw two men standing outside a McDonald’s restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida and he allegedly approached them, threatened them and spewed racial slurs.
“Get out of my country. You do not deserve to eat here,” Smith reportedly said while brandishing a switchblade.
The two men, Mohamed Galal and Zeyad Said, got worried and began walking towards their car. However, the ordeal didn’t end there. Smith went up to his car and pulled out a stun gun. He then sat in his car and pointed the gun towards the two men from his car window.
Galal and Said were understandably shaken by the incident. They decided to drive off because they feared Smith would open fire at them. However, as they tried to to escape the premises, their car ran into a pole.
That is when police authorities were called in. Police officers arrested Smith as they arrived at the scene and sent him to St. Johns County jail.
Smith faces charges of aggravated assault, trespassing and burglary. However, he was later released after posting $8,500 bond.
It is yet to be determined if the incident was a hate crime.
Police also reached out to the restaurant to acquire CCTV footage but the food outlet said it wasn’t available. Later a manager confirmed the incident and said Smith was at fault.
According to a police arrest report, Smith accused the two men of taunting him. During investigation, he also acknowledged the fact he was carrying a stun gun.
“I am American and the guys by the vehicles were making a ruckus, so I told them to get out of here and one of them pulled a gun,” he said.
The victims were reportedly exchange students from Egypt and are Muslims. They are fearful after the incident.
"We are scared from the whole situation, not because he got out, but the whole thing. It was scary from the beginning. We’re just mentally, physically and subconsciously drained right now. This is just too much for us,” said one the victim.
The Florida Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement in wake of the incident.
“Our community is under attack. Last year 145 anti-Muslim incidents were reported in the state. Florida is listed #5 nationwide with having the most hate-related incidents with children, women, and elders frequently among the victims," it said.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Ann Saphir