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Man charged after 2 Muslim women threatened with racial slurs near Hamilton, Ont.

Last Updated Jul 14, 2021 at 10:07 am PDT

An undated file photo a Hamilton Police vehicle. TWITTER/@HamiltonPolice

Hamilton police have named the suspect charged after an alleged hate crime in Ancaster on Monday.

Police say Vince Licata, 40, accosted two Muslim women, a mother and daughter, forcing them to run and hide.

Investigators say the incident occurred around 9:30 p.m. in the parking lot of a plaza in the Ancaster Meadowlands Monday.

Police say the interaction began when a vehicle pulling out of a parking spot almost struck one of the victims. The suspect then allegedly began uttering threats towards the pair, using slurs targeting the Muslim community.

The victims ran across the street and hid behind bushes while the suspect searched for them. He eventually located them and allegedly threatened to kill them.

Witnesses intervened after one of the victims ran screaming for help. The suspect then fled the area.

Licata, of Cambridge, is facing three charges of utter threat to cause death, two charges of assault with a weapon and dangerous operation and fail to comply probation.

In a video statement on Twitter, Hamilton police chief Frank Bergen said the mother and daughter were victims of a hate crime and that police are “outraged by these blatant acts of hatred.”

“We stand with the Muslim community here in Hamilton and across the country in condemning Islamophobia. These incidents are taken seriously and fully investigated,” he added.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims said the two women were wearing hijabs at the time of the incident.

They also shared a statement from the family targeted in this incident.

“We are shaken, but unbroken after the attack on our family last night. Let us be clear, this individual attempted to terrorize our family,” read the statement. “An individual drove dangerously to our family members. He swore at them. He cursed them with a number of racist and Islamophobic slurs. He threatened to murder them. He tried to tail them home in his vehicle.”

They added that in light of the attack in London, in which four members of a Muslim family were killed, it was incredibly terrifying.