San Diego man pleads guilty to hate crime assault after attacking Syrian refugee

San Diego man pleads guilty to hate crime assault after attacking Syrian refugee

A San Diego man has pleaded guilty to felony hate crime charges after assaulting a Syrian teenager on a trolley due to the teen having a conversation in Arabic with a friend.

Local ABC affiliate KGTV reported Monday that 26-year-old Adrian Vergara pleaded guilty in federal court to hate crime and assault charges after he attacked a 17-year-old boy.

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The assault reportedly began after Vergara became incensed after hearing the teen speaking on the phone with a friend in Arabic, and Vergara reportedly asked the boy about his ethnicity.

"Where are you from? Are you Mexican?" Vergara reportedly asked the teen.

"No, I am Arab," the teen responded. Vergara then reportedly began attacking the boy physically while shouting racial slurs.

Vergara pleaded guilty as part of a deal, KGTV reported, that will see him spend five years in prison following his sentencing next month.

The teen told Fox affiliate KSWB that his family fled Homs to escape the Syrian civil war only to find that they were not welcomed by everyone in the U.S., adding that his brother and mother have experienced racist abuse in the past.

“We came to this country under the belief that we would have civil rights and liberties and safety,” he told KSWB. “When the attack happened to my brother we realized this wasn’t true for everyone.”