Three local men have been charged with a hate crime for allegedly beating a Somali man because of his race and religion at a pizza restaurant in Redwood Village, according to the San Diego District Attorney's office.
Sean Arevalo, Terrance Crow, and Scott Peretti allegedly beat a 20-year old Somali Muslim man with brass knuckles and a chair inside the lobby of Zappy Pizza on University Avenue. The incident occurred on Sunday afternoon around 3:42 p.m., according to the San Diego Police Department (SDPD).
Police say an argument sparked after Arevalo, Crow and Peretti allegedly made degrading comments to the victim regarding his race and religion. The suspects then hit the man in the face with brass knuckles and slammed a chair onto his head.
A woman, who wished not to be identified by name, says she is the girlfriend of one of the suspects. She said that this wasn't a hate crime, but just a scuffle between the men--comparing it to a high school fight.
“Violence is not the answer but in this case, it is self-defense," she told NBC 7. "But what are you going to do if someone is hitting you?"
“Guys, guys. Just people talking crap. Somebody took offense to it and now there is a fight. That's all that happened," she added.
The three men were arrested at a home on Hughes Street, near the pizza restaurant after they were identified by witnesses. The victim suffered minor injuries, police said.
On Wednesday, NBC 7 learned the young man who was beaten is the son of a Somali community leader in City Heights. His father's office is just a mile from Zappy Pizza on University Avenue.
NBC 7 reached out to the victim's family, but we did not get a response to an interview request.
There are four security cameras inside Zappy Pizza but the attack was not recorded.
All three suspects are due in court on Nov. 7.