Mahud Villalaz was on his way into a Milwaukee restaurant for dinner Friday night when a man approached him and accused him of parking illegally—then, according to Villalaz, accused him of being in the country illegally. Villalaz, 42, moved his truck, but when he returned to the restaurant the man was still there. And after Villalaz, who was born in Peru, told him he is in fact a US citizen and that "people come here from other countries for a better life," the man pulled a bottle out of his bag and threw what police say was battery acid at his face. Now, a 61-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the attack, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Villalaz, who ran inside the restaurant screaming to wash the acid off his face, suffered second-degree burns in the attack, which was caught on surveillance footage obtained by WISN-TV. A GoFundMe campaign set up by Villalaz' sister has so far raised more than $18,000 to go toward his medical bills and the money he will lose by not being able to work until he recovers; the welder's vision is blurred due to the acid hitting his eye. Police are not yet saying much about the suspect other than that he is white, but they do say the attack is being investigated as a hate crime. A rep from a nonprofit speaking on behalf of the family says, "Currently, they're still under investigation making sure they have the correct person in custody." (Read more hate crime stories.)