A Milwaukee man has been charged with a hate crime for allegedly throwing acid in the face of a Peruvian immigrant while confronting him over a parking spot, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday.
Clifton A. Blackwell, 61, faces a charge of with first-degree reckless injury Wednesday which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years. Prosecutors added hate crime and use of a dangerous weapon, each of which would add five additional years.
Mahud Villalaz, a 42-year-old US citizen who grew up in Peru, was attacked Friday by a man who complained him about parking too close to a bus stop.
“He started arguing, saying, ‘Why you came here and invade my country? Why you came here illegally?’ [I said], ‘Sir, you don’t know my status. I’m a U.S. citizen too,'” Villalaz recalled. “He got mad when I told him ‘everybody came here from somewhere else.'”
Villalaz, who was on his way to a restaurant, said he had begun to walk away when Blackwell suddenly threw “unknown liquid” from the container in Villalaz’s face, the complaint states, adding that “the liquid immediately caused pain and burning to [his] face, cheek, neck, and left eye.”
Villalaz was taken to a local burn center for a treatment of second degree burns to his face, cheek, and neck. His left eye was also treated for injury.
Police later discovered muriatic acid, four bottles sulfuric acid drain opener and two bottles of lye from Blackwell’s home.
“I want to say thank you for the people helping me,” Villalaz said at a press conference Wednesday. “I appreciate it a lot; they fill my heart. There is a lot of good people here just for one guy. I’m very thankful that I’m OK.”
“It’s been nice to know that there are many people here that worry about other people,” said Villalaz, who works as a welder. “Not only Latinos … [people] of all colors. We must unite.”
Blackwell, who made his initial court appearance Wednesday, remains held on $20,000 bond.
An online fundraiser set up to help cover Villalaz’s medical bills has raised more than $48,000.