This time, a 60-year-old man was arrested in Florida after going on a racist rant directed at a group of men he perceived as Muslim.
John Jay Smith went on his tirade at a McDonald’s in St. Augustine, Fla., and reportedly told the men, “Get out of my country, you do not deserve to eat here.”
One of the victims told deputies that Smith told them, “Get the f*** out of here, you don’t deserve American food.”
He approached the men with “a switchblade or other type of automatic knife,” First Coast News, a local ABC News affiliate, reported, and also tried to fire a stun gun at the men.
Smith reportedly told officers on the scene, “I am American and the guys by the vehicles were making [a] ruckus so I told them to get out of here and one of them pulled a gun and they left in a red vehicle.” No guns belonging to the victims were recovered.
While in custody, Smith repeated, “They killed my son. My son was a Marine,” according to reports.
According to VetFriends, the only casualty from Florida in Afghanistan with the last name Smith was Sgt. Edward B. Smith — who was Black and in the Army, not the Marine Corps. It is possible that Smith had a son who didn’t live with him in Florida, but News4Jax reported, “Prosecutors could not verify whether Smith had a son who was killed in action overseas.”
The Florida-Times Union identified the victims of the attack as Omar Abdelmoaty, Gasser Elkady, Mohamed Galal and Zeyad Said. The men told News4Jax that they are Egyptian exchange students and are Muslim.
One of the men — the outlet did not identify which — told News4Jax the ordeal has them shaken.
“We are scared from the whole situation, not because he got out, but the whole thing. It was scary from the beginning,” he said. “We’re just mentally, physically and subconsciously drained right now. This is just too much for us.”
Smith faces two counts of aggravated assault, one count of trespassing and one count burglary. It is not yet clear whether he will face hate crime charges. A spokesperson for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office told First Coast News this would be up to the attorney general.