2016-01-06 / Features

Indict Florida Man In Hate Attack On Steinway Grocer

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced on January 4 that a Queens County grand jury has indicted a 55-year-old Jacksonville, Florida, man on hate crime charges for allegedly attacking a Muslim store owner in Astoria, last month after uttering the words “I kill Muslims.”

DA Brown said, “The defendant is accused of striking a Muslim man in an unprovoked attack early last month after proclaiming he ‘kills Muslims.’ The victim was allegedly punched in the face and lefty bloody and bruised. This kind of ignorance and intolerance is unacceptable.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Piro Kolvani, 55, of Hartley Road in Jacksonville. The defendant was arraigned Monday before Acting Queens County Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron on a four-count indictment charging him with third-degree assault as a hate crime, third-degree assault, second-degree aggravated harassment and second-degree harassment. The defendant was released on his own recognizance and ordered to return to court on February 11, 2016. If convicted, Kolvani faces up to four years in prison.

According to the criminal charges, said Brown, the victim, Sarker Haque, was working in his store on 21st Avenue in Astoria, when the defendant entered and began acting strangely. Haque started to ask the defendant a question when he suddenly blurted out “I kill Muslims” and began striking the victim in the face. Haque sustained a cut to his lip as well as bruising and swelling on the left side of his face.

Councilman Costa Constantinides released a statement regarding the crime that took place in his district: “I was reassured to learn that the NYPD has re-arrested the perpetrator of this vicious attack. Charging this criminal with a hate crime shows that we are united in support of our Muslim community and will not tolerate hate. We condemn this unconscionable behavior. We applaud the 114th Precinct for their handling of this serious incident.”

The investigation was conducted by the New York City Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force and District Attorney Brown’s Hate Crimes Bureau.

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