NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police have arrested a Long Island man, charging him with hate crimes for allegedly calling a Sikh man a terrorist before running him over.
Joseph Caleca, 55, of Setauket, is charged with attempted murder and felony assault, both as hate crimes, in connection with the July 30 incident.
Caleca was behind the wheel of his pickup truck in Ozone Park, Queens, when he got into a verbal argument with 29-year-old Sandeep Singh because Singh’s car door was blocking the street, police said.
Police said Caleca allegedly got out of his vehicle to confront Singh and his friends.
Singh told police that Caleca called him a terrorist and shouted “bin Laden, go back to your country” before mowing him down, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.
Caleca dragged Singh several feet before fleeing the scene, police said.
“A man in a truck had called him a terrorist and told him to go back to his country,” the victim’s wife, Prabhurpreet Kaur, said earlier this month. “When Sandeep protested, the man ran him over, dragged him 30 feet under the truck and left him to die.”
Singh was treated at Jamaica Hospital for abdominal and back injuries.
His family is relieved to hear of the arrest.
“I’m very happy they got him,” the victim’s brother, Navinh Singh, said, adding that Sandeep Singh is continuing to recover. “He’s doing OK. Day by day, he’s doing better.”
“He’s walking. His injuries and his wounds are all healing,” Singh’s brother-in-law, Gurdarshan Janjua, said.
Caleca also faces a charge of leaving the scene without reporting it.
Caleca faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
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