A Palestinian American man was stabbed in the back in Austin, Texas, after attending a protest in support of Gaza in what police are calling a “bias-motivated incident."
Zacharia Doar, 23, was sitting in the passenger seat of his friend’s car on Sunday when a man opened his door and dragged him to the ground, his father, Nizar Doar, told NBC News on Wednesday.
In the scuffle, the victim saw the man charging his friend with a knife. When he went to protect his friend, he was stabbed in the upper left side of his back, a few inches from his heart, his father said, adding that the knife broke his son's rib.
“He is really, really in a lot of agony and a lot of pain at this moment,” the elder Doar said. “It’s sad to be here. Seeing my son suffering is sad to see.”
The attack happened around 7 p.m., police said, hours after the protest had ended and after the victim had gotten food with his friends.
Nizar Doar said he believes his son was targeted because the car had a distinctly patterned Palestinian kaffiyeh, or scarf, tied to a door handle.
The Austin Police Department said Bert James Baker, 36, who is white, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
The police department said its Hate Crimes Review Committee “determined the facts of the case meet the definition of a Hate Crime.” The agency said the Travis County District Attorney’s Office will make the final decision on enhancing the offense to a hate crime.
The district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Baker’s bond amount is $100,000, according to court records. His attorney, Richard Gentry, declined to comment.
Zacharia Doar, who is now home from the hospital, faces a recovery period of at least six weeks, his father said.
The younger Doar and his wife have a 5-month-old child and recently moved into their first home. “They were looking forward to enjoy the American dream,” Nizar Doar said.
That dream is shattering, he added, as he called for an end to the Israel-Hamas war.
“At the moment, this dream is fading away,” Nizar Doar said.