Man arrested, charged with hate crime in anti-Muslim and anti-Sikh hit-and-run

Surveillance camera footage showing Sandeep Singh moments before he is struck and dragged by a white pick-up truck in Queens. Moments earlier, the driver of the truck had hurled a racial slur at Singh and his friend as they stood in the street.
Surveillance camera footage showing Sandeep Singh moments before he is struck and dragged by a white pick-up truck in Queens. Moments earlier, the driver of the truck had hurled a racial slur at Singh and his friend as they stood in the street.

Earlier this month, I posted about the Queens-area hit-and-run of Sandeep Singh, a South Asian American man who was run over by the driver of the white pickup truck pictured above after a series of racial slurs were hurled in Singh’s direction.

On July 30th, 29-year-old Sandeep Singh was standing on the street when the driver of the white pickup called Singh and a friend racist slurs, yelling out “terrorist” and “go back to your own country, Bin Laden!”. Singh, who is Sikh American, hit the side of the truck as it drove past. The driver stopped the truck and got out, and Singh’s friend says the driver was threatening them both and was holding something in his hand. Following a brief altercation, the driver got back into his truck, which is when Singh stood in front of the truck to try and get him to stay so they could call the police.

On surveillance camera footage, the driver can then be seeing accelerating his car and running Singh over, dragging him 30 ft down the street before Singh came loose from the truck’s undercarriage. The truck did not slow down or stop; Singh was taken to hospital in critical condition.

Now, local news are reporting that an arrest has been made.

Police arrested 55-year-old Joseph Caleca of Setauket, Suffolk County on Monday night; Setauket is a small area located on the north shore of Long Island. Police were able to track down Caleca after combing through information regarding vehicles that were present in Ozone Park at the time of the incident.

Newsday is reporting that the Setauket address provided for Caleca was not pulled up in a public records search; instead, the news station is reporting that Caleca’s current address is in Oceanside. While I have doubts regarding the veracity of this report — there are over 14 different men named Joseph Caleca in the New York City area — if this reported Joseph Caleca is indeed the man arrested and charged with Singh’s attempted murder, then this Joseph Caleca is also listed on Facebook and White Pages as having grown up in the Ozone Park area, which may offer a clue as to why he was allegedly in Ozone Park on the night of July 30.

Joseph Caleca has been charged with attempted murder as a hate crime, as well as assault as a hate crime — both felony charges.

While describing his attack, Singh said from his hospital bed, “I was attacked because I am a Sikh, and because I look like a Sikh. We need to create a world without hate.”

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