A Rego Park man was arrested in connection with the brutal attack on a Muslim man that sent the victim to the hospital in November, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced on Dec. 18.
Eric Leon, 37, was arraigned on Thursday, Dec. 17, in Queens Criminal court on charges of assault as a hate crime, two counts of aggravated harassment and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Leon is the second person to be arrested and charged in the attack – his girlfriend, Giselle Dejesus, 35, was arrested in November and charged with assault, acting in a manner injurious to a child, aggravated harassment and disorderly conduct.
On Nov. 6, around 11 p.m., Khaled Aly, 38, his wife, Neamat Taha, and their two children were walking to their Rego Park home when they were allegedly confronted by Leon and Dejesus, according to to the authorities. The two families live in the same apartment building on Woodhaven Boulevard.
Dejesus allegedly told the family, that “we are in America,” and criticized Taha’s wearing of a hijib, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, New York, the group representing Aly and Taha in court.
Dejesus attempted to rip off Taha’s hijab after Aly had asked the couple leave the family alone, according to the DA. Leon grabbed Aly and shoved him to the ground before repeatedly kicking him in the head and face, the charges state.
Aly was taken to a nearby hospital where he was treated for multiple fractures to his face. He eventually needed surgery to repair damage caused by the attack, the DA said.
If convicted, Leon faces up to 15 years in prison.