Chicago | A landlord in Chicago, who had been agitated due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, was charged and arrested after he stabbed his six-year-old Palestinian-American tenant 26 times because the child and his mother were Muslims, according to law enforcement officials.
In a statement on Sunday, the Will County Sheriff’s Office said that on October 14 at 11.38 a.m., deputies were sent to a residence located near the 16200 block of S. Lincoln Highway regarding a stabbing that occurred involving a landlord and the tenant.
The deputies found two victims with multiple stab wounds inside the residence, while the suspect — identified as Joseph M. Czuba (71) was sitting on the ground near the driveway of the house.
The victims were identified as Hanaan Shahin (32) and her son Wadea Al-Fayoume (six).
The Will County Sheriff's Office said that Shain has been transported to a nearby hospital in serious condition "and had over a dozen stab wounds to her body".
She is currently recovering and is expected to survive this brutal attack, it added.
However, the victim was also transported to the hospital in critical condition, where he later succumbed to his injuries.
The child had been stabbed 26 times throughout his body and the "forensic pathologist conducting the autopsy removed the knife from the abdomen of the boy", the Sheriff's Office said in the statement.
The knife used in the crime was a 12-inch serrated military style knife that had a seven-inch blade.
Although the suspect did not make any statements to detectives regarding his involvement in this heinous attack, personnel were able to gather enough information through interviews and evidence to formally charge him with first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, hate crime (two counts), and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, the statement added.
"Detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the ongoing Middle conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis," the Will County Sheriff’s Office noted.
Meanwhile, the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), the country’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation, on Sunday called the brutal attack “our worst nightmare".
According to CAIR, Hanaan and her son Wadea had lived on the ground floor of the house for two years with no previous notable issues with the landlord.
Citing text messages reportedly sent to the father of the boy by Hanaan, the suspect "who had been angry with what he was seeing in the news knocked on their door, and when she opened, he tried to choke her and proceeded to attack her with a knife, yelling 'you Muslims must die'", the Council said in a release.
When she ran into the bathroom to call 911, she came out to find that he had stabbed her six-year-old son to death, it added.
“Our hearts are heavy, and our prayers are with the darling boy and his mother,” said Ahmed Rehab, CAIR-Chicago Executive Director.
“As we await the official investigation of the local authorities, what we can confirm at the moment is that we have a murdered child in his own home, a six-year who had just celebrated his birthday a couple of weeks ago, and a mother lying in the hospital in serious condition, both stabbed over a dozen times. And we have testimony from the mother as to the harrowing moments that unfolded in terms of what was done and said – and it is our worst nightmare."
Condemning the heinous crime, President Joe Biden said he was "sickened" by the attack.
"This horrific act of hate has no place in America, and stands against our fundamental values: freedom from fear for how we pray, what we believe, and who we are. As Americans, we must come together and reject Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and hatred," he said.
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