19-year-old arrested, charged with hate crime in NYC attack on Sikh man

RICHMOND HILL, Queens (WABC) -- A 19-year-old Brooklyn man has been arrested and is facing hate crime charges in an attack on a Sikh man in Queens last week.

Nirmal Singh, 70, was sucker punched from behind in an unprovoked assault on 95th Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard in Richmond Hill just before 7 a.m. on Sunday, April 3.

It left Singh with a broken nose and severe bruising.

The incident outraged and terrified the South Asian community in the area, leaving many concerned for their safety.

(Video above is from previous coverage)

Police announced Thursday that Vernon Douglas has been arrested and is charged with assault as a hate crime, robbery and aggravated harassment.

"My father is very grateful that his attacker has been identified and arrested so that he cannot harm others," Singh's son, Manjit said in a statement. "Our family sees this sad incident as an assault not just on him, but on all who wear turbans and other articles of faith. Successfully investigating and prosecuting this as a hate crime should send a clear message: All of our elders--regardless of religion, race, or any other characteristic--deserve to be able to walk the streets without fear."

The Sikh Coalition, which is providing pro bono legal aid and assisting Singh with participating in the investigation, said the 70-year-old returned to India last weekend "in order to have the support and care of his family."

The advocacy group also said a suspect was arrested on Tuesday in connection with the attacks on two more Sikh men that day.

RELATED | Dozens gather to show support for Sikh man attacked while walking in Queens
EMBED More News Videos

Dozens gathered in Richmond Hill to show support for Nirmal Singh, 70. Singh told police he was punched from behind one week ago on 95th Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard.

* More Queens news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a News Tip
Copyright © 2022 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.