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A man who threw a drink at a Sikh man, Balmeet Singh, outside a Bakersfield restaurant and yelled racial slurs at him in Kern County, California, has been charged with a hate crime.
David Hook faces two misdemeanor counts of battery and hate crime in connection with the Sept. 30 attack, according to the Kern County district attorney office, reported The Los Angeles Times.
Hook told Eyewitness News he was acting out of concern for the country, as the reason for attacking Singh.
A press release by the Kern County District Attorney’s office states, “It is alleged defendant David Hook threw liquid on another individual because he appeared to be of a different religion or race.”
Hook said he heard a man speaking on a cell phone in English and in a foreign language. At some point, Hook said he heard the man “say something about a bomb” and confronted the man identified as Balmeet Singh who wears a turban and is of the Sikh faith. The incident happened outside the Habit restaurant on September 30.
Asked why he didn’t call 911 to report his concern, Hook said he had a constitutional right to take direct action.
“If you see something say something,” said Hook.
When asked if anyone else heard Singh allegedly say something about a bomb, Hook said no.
Singh has a different version of events, said reports.
The 30-year-old realtor and health clinic administrator said Hook approached him while he was talking on the phone wishing his 13-year-old cousin a happy birthday. Hook allegedly began yelling at Singh, “You’re gonna blow up the country.”
Singh said that Hook yelled at him, and claims Hook threatened to kill him. Singh said Hook left but not before throwing a cup of soda on him.
Speaking outside his home, Hook said he is not a racist and said he will sue several media outlets including Eyewitness News and Facebook “for saying lies” and defamation of character. Hook is facing two counts of misdemeanor charges including one count of interference with the exercise of a civil right and one count of battery. The charges fall under the category of a hate crime.
If convicted, Hook faces up to one year in jail and a fine. Singh was born in Ohio and attended schools in Delano, McFarland and Bakersfield. He said he is pleased charges were filed and is confident justice will served.
“In Bakersfield, no one should feel unsafe. This is a community for all of us,” said Singh.
This story originally appeared in The American Bazaar.