"This is, sadly and tragically, a textbook case of hate," said a community Latino-rights advocate of this crime.
Mahud Villalaz, 42, immigrated to the U.S. as a young man, and has since been here for years. He's not an illegal immigrant but a U.S. citizen.
However, on Friday night, he says another man took exception to him being in the country and threw acid on his face, causing him to suffer second-degree burns.
Villalaz says that he had parked his truck near a Mexican restaurant on the city's south side and was preparing to go inside when he was confronted by a man who had taken umbrage with where Villalaz had parked. As the two men discussed things, Villalaz says the man began making anti-immigrant statements.
"'Why did you come here and invade my country?'" Villalaz said the man asked him.
Villalaz moved his truck to another spot, but when he returned, the man was still there, berating him about his immigration status and accusing him of being in the country illegally. This time, the man was holding a metal bottle of some kind. Villalaz thought it was a flask containing liquor, but when the man threw the contents of the bottle at him, Villalaz realized he'd had acid thrown on him.In excruciating pain, Villalaz ran into the restaurant to wash himself off with water. However, he still wound up suffering second-degree burns in the process.
Villalaz details how he had to explain to his distraught young son what happened.
"My son calls me today — 'Daddy, what happened with you?' And what (can I) tell him? Some crazy guy did this to me," Villalaz said.
According to a follow-up report by Milwaukee's WDJT-TV, Milwaukee police have confirmed that a 61-year-old man has been arrested in connection with this crime, and that he faces charges of aggravated battery. His name has not been released, as of this writing.
Leaders of Milwaukee's Latino community are calling this incident a premeditated hate crime.
Darryl Morin, the head of Milwaukee-based advocacy group Forward Latino, said that the alleged assailant was looking for a Latino person to attack.
"I dare say it was premeditated — because no one walks around with a bottle of acid and hangs out in a predominantly Latino neighborhood for no reason," he said.