Updated: 08/28/2014 5:31 PM |
Created: 08/28/2014 11:29 AM
By: Elizabeth Reed, KOB.com and Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
He terrorized an Iraqi family in Albuquerque because he thought they were Muslims – now the FBI wants the man so badly they're offering a $2,000 reward.
We're talking about a family of Iraqi jewelers who came here a few years ago. Not trusting banks, they kept their money and a considerable amount of gold in their apartment on Montgomery near Pennsylvania. On June 5, a masked man forced his way inside, savagely beating a woman who was home alone, and stole the money and the gold, cursing Muslims the entire time. He also tore up the family's citizenship papers. Cops and FBI agents say all of that makes it a hate crime, punishable with penalties that are extra severe.
" When it becomes a hate crime is when a violent act is committed against someone of a particular race, color , gender, disability…things of that nature that happen to them," said Renae McDermott of the FBI. "That's what happened in this case. It was based on religious background."
"The irony of this whole thing is that this is a Christian family that fled Iraq because of persecution," said Sgt. Simon Drobik of the Albuquerque Police Department.
"Now they're in our country being persecuted because this individual targeted them because he thought they were Muslim."
The home invader is 5'9 to 5'10" tall, with a pale complexion and blue eyes. He wore a black ski mask that covered his entire head, blue winter gloves on his hands, a baggy yellow short-sleeve polo shirt with no marking, and blue jeans. The $2,000 reward is for information leading to his capture and conviction.
"Somebody obviously knows something that happened," Drobik said. "We're hoping that this reward will spark somebody to come forward, either to the FBI or ourselves, and let us know what happened. We really want to bring justice to this family."
"We take this seriously," McDermott said. "An individual's human rights - civil rights - should not be violated in such a manner, so we felt it's very important and we don't tolerate individuals who commit crimes of this nature."
You can reach the FBI at (505) 889-13400 24 hours a day, or Albuquerque Crime Stoppers at (505) 843-STOP.
New Mexico actually has a few hate crimes in its recent history, including one that shook the world. In 2010, three white men abducted a Navajo man in Farmington, branded him with a crude swastika, and shaved another one into the hair on the back of his head, writing White Power slogans on his body with markers. Last spring, a man was arrested for plastering an Albuquerque deli with anti-Jewish stickers. That case is still pending.