(PLAINFIELD, Ill.) — An Illinois man was charged with stabbing a 6-year-old Muslim boy to death and seriously injuring his mother in what police said was a hate crime linked to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East.
Joseph Czuba allegedly stabbed the boy 26 times with a “military-style knife” and his mother more than a dozen in the incident, which President Joe Biden said “shocked and sickened” him.
“The child’s Palestinian Muslim family came to America seeking what we all seek—a refuge to live, learn, and pray in peace. This horrific act of hate has no place in America, and stands against our fundamental values: freedom from fear for how we pray, what we believe, and who we are,” his statement continued.
The Justice Department opened a federal hate crimes investigation into the alleged murder of the boy, who was identified as Wadea Al-Fayoume, and wounding of his mother, Hanaan Shahin, according to a statement.
Local authorities said in a news release that the suspect, who is scheduled to be in court on Monday, stabbed the boy on Saturday in the Chicago suburb of Plainfield, Illinois.
“Detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis,” the Will County Sheriff’s Office said. No further details were made available regarding what the sheriff’s department alleged was the suspect’s motive.
On Saturday around 11:38 a.m. local time, deputies were sent to a residence near S. Lincoln Highway and responded to a call about a stabbing between a landlord and tenant.
The victims were found in the bedroom of a residence. Both victims had multiple stab wounds to their chest, torso and upper extremities, authorities said.
The 32-year-old female was taken to the hospital in serious condition. She suffered from over a dozen stab wounds to her body and is expected to survive the attack, officials said.
The child, 6, was taken to the hospital in critical condition and succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead, the sheriff’s department said.
The suspect was taken to a hospital after authorities found him with a laceration on his forehead when they arrived on scene.
Czuba was charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of a hate crime and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. The suspect did not give a statement, though authorities claim they were able to determine the victims in the attack “were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis.”
ABC News was unable to locate a legal representative for the suspect.
Biden in his statement calling the incident a “horrific act of hate.”
“As Americans, we must come together and reject Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and hatred. I have said repeatedly that I will not be silent in the face of hate. We must be unequivocal. There is no place in America for hate against anyone,” his statement read.
ABC News’ Alexander Malin contributed to this story.
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