There was no warning before the attack.
A 19-year-old Muslim woman had just walked up to the reception desk at an emergency room in Michigan last month when a man came up behind her and started pummeling her — first into the desk, then into a wall and finally to the ground, video shows.
“She never saw it coming,” Majed Moughni, the victim’s attorney, told WDIV.
The teen college student had initially gone to Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn, Michigan, around 3:30 a.m. on Feb. 10 after slipping on some ice. The woman was worried she had broken her jaw during the fall.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The attack happened as she was handing over registration information to the receptionist, according to a lawsuit filed against the alleged assailant and the hospital in Wayne County court. The woman was dressed in a Muslim headscarf, or hijab, at the time of the attack.
“The circumstantial evidence would lead one to conclude that the attack was religiously motivated,” Moughni said in a statement to McClatchy. He added that of the five people in the lobby at the time of the attack “my client was the only one who wore the hijab.”
John Deliz, 57, was arrested and charged with assault after the attack, the Detroit News reports. He is still in custody and will have a competency hearing in May.
Deliz had been discharged from the same hospital himself just prior to the attack. But he was loitering in the ER lobby accosting other patients, according to a police report — including asking for cigarettes and trying to wander down adjacent hallways.
Hospital security told Deliz he could stay in the hospital as he waited for his ride, but only if he would “sit down and leave the other patients alone,” according to the police report.
Deliz and the victim didn’t know one another, according to police, and the lawsuit alleges he attacked her “for no other reason but because she was a Muslim.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the hospital was negligent in not preventing the attack, and seeks $25,000 in damages. The lawsuit accuses Deliz of ethnic intimidation as well.
“She’s terrified. She’ll probably never see life the way she did before this accident,” Moughni told WXYZ. She’s afraid to go outdoors, she’s afraid to go in public.”
Representatives for the hospital said that staff there responded appropriately and swiftly. The situation was contained within seconds of the attack beginning, video shows.
“Beaumont security personnel responded immediately and took action to protect the patient and others in the emergency room,” the hospital said in a statement to the Detroit News. “Dearborn Police were contacted and Beaumont staff cooperated fully in the investigation. We take pride in our service to this diverse community and want all patients to feel welcome at Beaumont.”