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California man accused of attacking Syrian refugee aboard trolley car arrested

Posted at 8:43 AM, Oct 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-23 08:43:49-04

SAN DIEGO — Police arrested a man on Tuesday that was wanted in connection with an attack earlier this month on a teen Syrian refugee aboard a trolley, sparking a hate crime investigation.

According to San Diego police, 26-year-old Adrian Vergara was arrested Tuesday by San Diego Harbor Police on an unrelated misdemeanor narcotics charge.

During his arrest, Vergara was recognized as being wanted in connection to an ongoing hate crime investigation, police said. The arrest stems from the beating of a 17-year-old Syrian refugee on a San Diego trolley car Oct. 15.

Representatives for the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA), who spoke on the teen's behalf, said the teen was speaking Arabic while on FaceTime with a friend when a man on the trolley asked him, "Where are you from? Are you Mexican?"

The teen reportedly responded, "No, I am Arab."

According to the teen, the man then started punching him and cursing using racial slurs.

The victim reportedly got off on the 62nd Street station in Encanto. He said the man also got off at the station and left the scene.

Numerous people reportedly watched as he was attacked, but no one stepped in to help him.

Police have obtained video of the attack and said it confirms what the victim reported.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.

This story was originally published by Zac Self on KGTV in San Diego.