An Ontario man was filmed this week attacking a Colombian-Canadian family with a baseball bat, claiming they were both “French terrorists” and “ISIS.”
The incident took place in the parking lot of a mall in St. Thomas, Ontario on Thursday, and was caught on film by one of the attacker’s victims. The attacker, identified as Mark Phillips, 36, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and three counts of assault with a weapon. He was denied bail.
@CTVLondon We were victims of a hate crime in St Thomas Ontario. A guy got mad, because we were talking in Spanish . He was about to hit my son who is 13th years old, but my Hubby jumped while the aggressor swings the baseball bat. pic.twitter.com/4tuqSPAH8K
— Mari UX (@Mari__ux) December 8, 2017
Phillips left Sergio Estepa with a cracked rib and large bruise after he stepped in front of his 13-year-old son to protect him from the attack, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported. Estepa tried to tell the man stay away from him, but he pursued the family, demanding Estepa’s phone and telling him he was under arrest.
“Out of the blue this guy starts yelling at us,” Estepa said. “He called me a terrorist, that I’m ISIS, I don’t know, maybe because of my beard. At some point he started to charge my son, and I went in front.”
Phillips yelled at the family, telling them they didn’t belong there and that they were speaking French (they were speaking Spanish). Phillips also repeatedly yelled, “we have ISIS” to onlookers, who offered little help, the CBC reported. Estepa did say that one bystander — the vice principal at Estepa’s son’s elementary school — intervened.
“Only one person helped us,” Estepa said. “It happened at 4:30, in a mall with a movie theatre and many stores. It’s quite an active mall. We were surprised that they pretended that nothing happened.”
Estepa and his partner, Mari Zambrano, had moved from Colombia around 20 years ago to escape a long-simmering conflict — in part fueled by the U.S.-led War on Drugs.