MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. - The Martin County Sheriff's Office arrested a man Wednesday for stabbing a Stuart business owner because he said he thought he was "Arab."
Deputies say Jeremiah Hendrix is being charged with a hate crime and is being held on a $40,000 bond.
The owner of the Family Discount Dollar store on Dixie Highway in Stuart, Shinoy Mailackel, is recovering with 12 stitches in his arm.
He says what Hendrix did not know is that he is not an Arab.
"He probably thinks that because of my skin color that I am an Arab, but I'm not an Arab," Mailackel said.
The incident started Wednesday morning.
Mailackel said Hendrix, who had been at the store in the past, came to the store to buy a couple items.
A female cashier, Varsha Patel, was ringing up his items.
Patel told deputies Hendrix was upset about the taxes on his items and said, "You guys are trying to rob me." Then, deputies say he told Patel, "I'll take care of you later."
Hendrix followed through with that threat, and returned to the store Wednesday afternoon, according to Mailackel.
Mailackel said Hendrix started yelling at the woman, and he told Hendrix not to speak to her that way.
"She's like a mother figure to us," Mailackel said.
That's when surveillance video appears to show Hendrix slash open Mailackel's arm, before walking out of the store.
"I never expected it because I never had a word with him, not any kind of arguments," Mailackel said.
Mailackel believes he helped save Patel from being targeted.
"Im pretty sure he would have done something bad to her."
Deputies tracked down Hendrix and ultimately asked him why he attacked Mailackel.
An arrest report shows Hendrix replied "There's no reason other than they are [expletive] Arabs. I don't like Arabs."
"I'm Catholic. I'm born and raised as a Catholic," Mailackel said.
He's been an U.S. citizen for seven years, he added.
In his opinion, Hendrix's actions were a display of ignorance.
"I feel sorry for him actually….Everyone that has the same skin are not Arabs or Muslims. There are Hindus, there are Christians, there are all kinds of religious people … There are a lot of people who love this country, who live for this country," Mailackel said.
Records show Hendrix is charged with aggravated battery, and by pursuing a hate crime addition, deputies say the charge would be raised from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony.
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