The suspect in an acid attack against a Hispanic father has been charged with a hate crime, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday. The complaint alleges that Clifton Blackwell, 61, threw acid on Mahud Villalaz and called him an "illegal" after a parking dispute escalated outside a Milwaukee restaurant last Friday.
Blackwell faces a charge of first-degree reckless injury which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years. He also faces charges of using a dangerous weapon and committing a hate crime, each of which would add five additional years.
The dispute began after Villalaz parked in front of a Milwaukee restaurant, according to the complaint. Blackwell allegedly told Villalaz that he couldn't park there, due to his car's proximity to a bus stop, before asking "Why did you invade my country?" and "Why don't you respect my laws?"
Villalaz, a 42-year-old U.S. citizen who originally lived in Peru, then saw Blackwell pull a metal bottle from a satchel on his right side, the complaint states.
After Villalaz moved his vehicle and returned to the restaurant, the harassment continued, according to the complaint. Blackwell allegedly told Villalaz to "Go back, go back motherf----r," and called him an "illegal."
Villalaz said he responded to Blackwell by calling him a "racist motherf----r," and told him that "everyone comes from somewhere first."
Blackwell then threw "unknown liquid" from the container in Villalaz's face, the complaint states, adding that "the liquid immediately caused pain and burning to [his] face, cheek, neck, and left eye."
"It started burning really bad, I started screaming for help to the restaurant," Villalaz said, according to CBS affiliate WDJT-TV. The attack was caught on surveillance camera.
Villalaz was taken to a local burn center, where he was treated for second degree burns to his face, cheek, and neck. His left eye was also treated for injury.
Three days after the attack, authorities searched Blackwell's home and found "muriatic acid, four bottles of brand name Kleen-Out sulfuric acid, two bottles of Kleen-Out drain opener (100% lye), and Parkerizing cleaner," according to the complaint.
State leaders quickly condemned the attack. "I'm angry that a racist was able to live out his beliefs through violence against one of my constituents," state Representative Jocasta Zamarripa said at a press conference, WDJT-TV reports.
The attack also shocked fellow Milwaukee residents. "[I've] been around here all my life," resident Oscar Huizar told WDJT-TV. "Not much has happened like that so this was like a major thing."
"Everyday it's getting a little bit harder for a Hispanic male around here," he added.
Caitlin O'Kane contributed to this report.