A Milwaukee man who suffered second-degree burns to his face after a battery acid attack Friday says he is the “victim of a hate crime.”
Police said early Sunday that they had arrested a 61-year-old man in connection with an “aggravated battery” on Milwaukee’s south side.
Mahud Villalaz, a 42-year-old U.S. citizen who is originally from Peru, said the man began berating him during an argument over a parking space.
He claims the man told him to “go back to [his] country” before tossing acid in his face from a metal bottle, leaving him with second-degree burns and scarring.
The man allegedly told Villalaz, who has been living in the United States for 19 years while working as a welder, to “get out of this country” and called him “illegal.”
“I believe (I) am a victim of a hate crime because (of) how he approached me,” Villalaz told WISN.
“He started talking,” said Mahud. “‘You don’t respect my laws. You came to my country. You came here illegally.'”
“He had a little bag he carried on the side,” said Mahud. “Then, he pulled out a little bottle, and then I got concerned. I was ready to go to the restaurant, and I saw he did like this, and my reaction was just doing like this, and he threw me the acid.”
“The feeling was burning, and I tried to defend myself, and I couldn’t,” said Mahud. “I couldn’t open my eyes, and I got crazy, and started yelling for help.”
Villalaz said the acid started to burn his face “really bad.”
“I got burned in my eye, too,” said Mahud. “I see blurry.”
He said he screamed and ran into a nearby restaurant for help.
“I think I pissed him off because I told him, ‘This is my country. This isn’t your country. Everybody came from somewhere else here,'” Villalaz said of the altercation.
“The acid attack last night near 13th and Cleveland was a heinous crime that will have a long-term impact on the life of the victim,” explained Alderman José G. Pérez, who represents the 12th District on Milwaukee’s South Side. “This was senseless violence, it needs to stop.”
Villalaz’s family released a statement thanking police for an arrest in the case.
“We wish to thank Chief Alfonso Morales and all the professionals at the Milwaukee Police Department for their efforts in bringing the attacker to justice,” the statement reads.
On Saturday Villalaz said he no longer felt safe.