FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WJLA) — Leaders in the local Muslim community say the punishment for the suspect accused of committing a hate-filled assault against another man on a VRE train in Fairfax County isn’t tough enough. The assault happened on a VRE train on May 20. The alleged attacker has been arrested and charged, but leaders say they aren’t satisfied.
The victim, a Muslim man, was headed home from his government job when the alleged assailant, 58-year-old Patrick Sullivan of Woodbridge, who also works for the government, became enraged that the victim was talking on the phone to his wife in his native language of Bengali.
Police say Sullivan began shouting and cursing, telling the man to speak English. That wasn’t the worst of it, though – according to the police report, the suspect struck the man in the head and threatened to throw him off the train, and even suggested to the conductor who tried to intervene that maybe the victim had a bomb, since he was Muslim.
Fairfax County police charged Sullivan with misdemeanor assault and battery, as a hate crime. However, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says it should be considered a more serious crime. Sullivan has been charged and released, and is due back in court in July.
The director of CAIR said he hopes prosecutors look to increase the charges to help deter others who may consider similar bias-motivated assaults in the future.