Cops were called to a MetMart in Port St. Lucie after 64-year-old Richard Lloyd was seen acting suspiciously by the store's entrance around 7:40 a.m. on Friday, according to officials. He was booked for first degree arson.
St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said the accused tried to set the store on fire because he thought the owners were Muslim, CNNreported.
Mascara continued: "It's unfortunate that Mr Lloyd made the assumption that the store owners were Muslim when, in fact, they are of Indian descent".
Lloyd's plan was reportedly to catch the rest of the building on fire and burn the store to the ground, he said.
Richard Lloyd was arrested for allegedly attempting to burn down a convenience store. He told the police that he had "wanted to run the Arabs out of our country", as he was angered by "what they were doing in the Middle East".
Police said Lloyd was hoping by setting a garbage bin on fire he would ignite a bigger blaze targeting the shop.
Lloyd is reported to have a history of mental health issues and would be given a mental health evaluation.
Another Indian, Harnish Patel, was killed in SC last week, but the killing was not identified as a hate crime.
Earlier in February, an Indian techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot dead after an American man thought he was from Iran. A third man was wounded by a bullet when he tried to intervene. The victim survived the incident and told police that the suspect - described as a tall, white man wearing a mask - told him to "go back to your own country" before shooting, the Seattle Times reports. He was also told something "to the effect of: Get out of our country".
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