TOLEDO -- Toledo police are calling a recent attack against two Middle Eastern men a hate crime. It happened early Sunday morning when the two were pumping gas at a station on West Sylvania and Talmadge, reports News 11's Lisa Rantala.
The two cousins were coming back home from a night out. They stopped around 3 a.m. at the Barney's less than a mile from their home. They just wanted to get gas but became the subjects of a violent attack instead.
Cuts and bruises are not what the 24-year-old man from Yemen was expecting when pumping gas. "You know, I take care of my family. I have no problem," he says.
That is, until he became a target of hate.
"They are scary men saying, 'Freakin' Arab,' and all of that. They started hitting us. I don't even know what they reason is. I tell them, 'What's the matter guys?' We don't want to fight," he says.
Police say three white men spotted the cousins at the pump and pulled over.
"They saw these two people and decided to run their mouths," says Toledo Police Captain Ray Carroll. One man says his attackers punched him and kicked him to the ground.
"I told them, 'Guys, we don't want to fight. Stop fighting. Why do you want to fight?'"
After several minutes, he says the suspects got back in their car -- but it still wasn't over. He says they tried to run him over.
"If I was in front of the car, they would have killed me and go," he says.
Police are treating this as a racially motivated attack.
"It could turn into a volatile situation so we assign someone specifically for that so we can investigate it as thoroughly as we can," Carroll says.
After becoming a U.S. citizen six years ago, one of the victims says this is the first time he's ever felt unwelcome.