Updated Wednesday, Aug. 20 11:52 p.m.
A 55-year-old Long Island man has been charged with a hate crime after he allegedly called another man “Osama” before intentionally running him over and dragging him several feet before fleeing, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Joseph Caleca has been charged with attempted murder as a hate crime, assault as a hate crime and leaving the scene without reporting.
“The defendant is accused of an unprovoked attack that allegedly began with the defendant driving by the victim and his friends and yelling out a vile anti-Muslim insult,” Brown said. “After an exchange of words, the defendant allegedly struck the victim intentionally with his vehicle and dragged his body along the street.”
On July 30, the victim, 29-year-old Sandeep Singh, was standing at the intersection of 101st Avenue and 99th Street in Ozone Park with three friends just after midnight when a light-colored pickup truck driven by Caleca approached the group. Caleca then went on to say, “in sum and substance,” according to Brown, “Move your [expletive] ass. You’re [expletive] slow, you [expletive] Osama. Go back to your country.”
Afterwards, Caleca allegedly parked his truck, got out and confronted Singh and his friends. After a verbal dispute, Caleca then returned to his truck and drove head-on into Singh, catching his body on the vehicle’s undercarriage and then dragging Singh several feet until his body got out from under the vehicle, according to the district attorney. Caleca then fled the scene.
Singh was taken to Jamaica Hospital with abdominal and back injuries, and several abrasions.
A week after Singh was struck outside of his business, a rally was held urging authorities to investigate the incident as a hate crime, according to DNAinfo.
Caleca was ordered held without bail and to return to court on Sept. 10. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.