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Police in St. Thomas say they are investigating what they describe as a “scary and very disturbing” incident on Thursday as a possible hate crime.
Emergency crews were called to the Elgin Mall parking lot around 4:30 p.m. after reports of a man with a bat attacking a group of four people, including a 13-year-old.
Video of the attack, which was sent to CityNews and posted to social media, shows the suspect pointing at the family and yelling “we got terrorists here” and “ISIS,” while holding a yellow bat over his shoulder.
In the video, the suspect is seen swinging the bat several times at the victims.
A woman, her husband, their 13-year-old son and another adult, all Colombian, were walking through the parking lot speaking Spanish when they say the confrontation began.
According to police, the male victim suffered broken ribs.
Mark Phillips from Toronto was arrested at the scene and charged with aggravated assault and three counts of assault with a weapon. He will remain in custody until a bail hearing on Monday.
“The remarks he made on camera and what the witnesses have given us, that definitely is racially motivated,” said Sgt. Brian Carnegie. “And we’ll look at that and adding the hate crime overtones to it.”