Brooklyn man charged with 3 hate attacks against Sikhs

FILE - File image of crime scene tape. (FOX TV Stations)

A 19-year-old man from Brooklyn has been charged with three hate crimes in connection to several attacks on Sikh men in Queens this month. 

Vernon Douglas, 19, faces up to 25 years in prison on 13 criminal charges including robbery and assault as a hate crime.

A second man, Hezekiah Coleman, 20, has also been charged with Douglas in connection to one of the attacks.

"This defendant is accused of targeting three men, all members of the Sikh community who wore turbans at the time of the attacks. We will not tolerate beatings motivated by hate in the borough of Queens – the most diverse county in the world. Our diversity is our strength and no acts of violence will undermine who we are. This defendant, along with his co-defendant, will be held to account for the charges of which they are accused," said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

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According to authorities, on April 3, Douglas approached a 70-year-old man wearing a turban at around 6:45 a.m. on April 3 near the intersection of 95th Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard. Police say Douglas punched the victim several times in the face and head.

Then, on April 12, at around 7 a.m. at the same location, authorities say Douglas, shirtless and carrying a stick, approached a 45-year-old man wearing a turban. Authorities say Douglas hit the victim several times with the stick in the head and face, then punched him several times. 

He also stole $300 in cash from the victim after his wallet fell to the ground during the assault.

Just minutes later, Douglas allegedly approached a third victim, a 58-year-old man, and also struck him several times in the head and face with a  stick, causing the man's turban to fall from his head. That's when authorities say Coleman picked up the head wrap, pulled the victim's beard and punched the victim several times before threatening to shoot him and stealing $200 from the victim's pocket.

All three victims were treated for injuries at local hospitals.