A Tucson man has been taken into custody after he yelled racist slurs and attacked a group of Muslim women sitting outside of a Starbucks — only to be tackled by bystanders as he attempted to flee.
According to TucsonNewsNow, 44-year-old Manuel Lewis was arrested on Sunday, Jan. 14, around 9 p.m after confronting the women on the coffee shop patio, yelling slurs at them and then flipping over their table before bolting.
“He came. He ran and pushed into their table. A couple of the girls fell down. He threw their table over,” recalled Joseph Witzke, who witnessed the incident and took pictures of Lewis as he was held on the ground while police were summoned.
“It was a lot to process. Should I let him go? Should I chase him? What is really happening here? But then I had seen these girls and they’re crying and freaking out. So I felt like we couldn’t just let him [get] away after what he did,” Witzke explained.
According to Tucson police, Lewis was carrying knives on him when he made the anti-Muslim slurs, with NewsNow adding that this was not the man’s first attack on local Muslims.
Amna Al Qaisi, who owns middle-eastern restaurant Sinbad’s, said Lewis has verbally abused her with racist comments and that her son had to run him off.
Told that Lewis was carrying knives at the time of his arrest, she said his actions amount to acts of terrorism.
“Yes, especially with carrying the knife. It is so bad. And for the women – for the women – impossible. They are very peaceful. Why he did it? They are schoolkids,” she explained.
According to Tucson police officer Chris Hawkins, Lewis was charged with seven counts of disorderly conduct, two counts of assault with no injuries and two counts of criminal damage.
He could also face hate crime charges when he returns to court, the officer stated.