A man in Affton, Missouri has been charged with a hate crime after he threatened a Muslim family with a gun while they were shopping for a house.
Leonard Debello is accused of harassing and threatening a Muslim family on Feb 21, CBS reports. Marwah Abdul Hussein told CBS that Debello yelled at her and her husband, who had their two young children in tow.
“Just because I had the cover on, he said, ‘You’re a Muslim. You should all die,'” said Hussein.
“We were on the phone with 911 and he went in the house and grabbed the gun and we started to scream,” she added. In a video of the incident, Debello is seen pulling out a handgun and walking toward the family while they tell their children not to cry.
Debello is reported to have written a letter of apology, saying that he was a veteran of Vietnam with post-traumatic stress disorder. The letter reportedly said that Debello hadn't taken his medication for PTSD that morning, which he says was the reason for the incident.
The family said that the apology was not enough, and that they wanted Debello charged with a hate crime. Now, Debello has been charged with "unlawful use of a weapon motivated by discrimination."
The prosecutor in the case said that Debello “ … knowingly exhibited in the presence of one or more persons a silver and black handgun, weapon readily capable of lethal use, in an angry or threatening manner, and the defendant knowingly did so because of Rabie Ayoub and Marwah Abdul Hussein’s race, religion or national origin.”
Hussein and Ayoub attended a news conference at Hazelwood's Islamic Center with members of the St. Louis chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who said that the case fit a trend of Islamophobic hate crimes and attacks in America.
Some speakers at the event said that they felt that the anti-Muslim rhetoric of politicians like Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump have contributed to an atmosphere of fear and hatred of Muslims throughout America.