Residents of Manteca, California, were stunned Monday by the gruesome assault of a 71-year-old Sikh man on a city sidewalk.
Surveillance footage, released by the Manteca Police Department and cited by the San Francisco Chronicle, shows two young men confronting Sahbit Singh Natt at about 6 a.m. during his morning walk along Manteca’s Greystone Park. After Natt tried to end the confrontation, one of the men brutally kicked him to the ground—twice. As he lay on the ground, writhing in pain, the same man returned and kicked him repeatedly in the head and upper body.
“They kicked really hard, really hard,” Natt’s son-in-law told ABC7. “Everybody’s scared.”
The next day, Darryl McAllister, Union City’s police chief, faced a stunning revelation: One of the suspects in the horrific attack is his son, 18-year-old Tyrone Keith McAllister.
McAllister shared his devastation in a heartfelt Facebook post late Wednesday, fully condemning his son’s actions and expressing his condolences to the Sikh community.
“Throughout my entire time as your police chief, I have vowed to engage with you, be transparent with you, and stand with you as we work together to keep Union City as a pillar of community pride, trust, and public safety companionship,” McAllister wrote.
“By now you are probably aware of news stories about a 71-year old Sikh man was accosted by two young men as he innocently walked down a Manteca sidewalk next to a park,” McAllister continued. The police chief didn’t spare any of the gruesome details of the attack, noting that the assailant’s kick “catapult[ed]” Natt to the ground. One of the attackers, the Chronicle adds, might have been carrying a gun.
“I am completely disgusted in sharing with you that, later yesterday evening, I received a call from the Manteca PD that the suspect in this horrific crime turns out to by my 18-year old son,” McAllister added. “Words can barely describe how embarrassed, dejected, and hurt my wife, daughters, and I feel right now. Violence and hatred is not what we have taught our children; intolerance for others is not even in our vocabulary, let alone our values. Crime has never been an element of our household, our values, nor the character to which we hold ourselves.”
After the attack, the Chronicle reports, Natt sought out community leaders, who brought him to the Manteca police department. There, with the help of an interpreter, Natt explained to officers that the assailants “asked him for some type of money” before kicking him to the ground. He was taken to the hospital, and later released.
Although he never apologized directly to Natt, McAllister noted in his post that “In the eyes of the public, no matter the irrelevance to the incident, the fact remains that the father of the perpetrator of this despicable crime is a police chief, period.”
“One cannot expect the general public (our Sikh community in particular) to factor in any sentiment that would distinguish this from the integrity of my family name,” he continued. “I pray that we, as a community, in conjunction with my family, can get through this and be even stronger as a result.”
After his release from the hospital, Natt attended a rally Tuesday night at Greystone Park, condemning the violence against him. His family told NBC Bay Area that it was difficult for them to watch the video footage.
With help from his father, police apprehended Tyrone McAllister Wednesday morning. He has since been charged with one count of attempted robbery, one count of elder abuse, and one count of assault with a deadly weapon. The other suspected assailant, who is a minor, faces the same charges, but is being held in a juvenile detention center.
Prior to the attack, McAllister reportedly took to Twitter and Snapchat to post about how he needed money and was planning to rob people.
The Chronicle notes that officers are currently investigating the crime as an attempted robbery, but are working to determine if it was also a hate crime, as well. A hate crime is committed when the suspect “harms or threatens to harm someone based on their disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.”
After decrying his son’s crimes as “a departure from everything I have stood for in my personal life, and in my 37-year policing career,” McAllister noted that his son has been estranged from the family for “several months.”
“My son began to lose his way a couple years ago, while he was a juvenile, running away and getting involved in a bad crowd,” he wrote. “He got into trouble for some theft-related crimes and ended up spending several months in juvenile hall. As an adult, he was again arrested for a theft-related incident, and he ended up spending another three months in adult jail as a result. Since being released he has been wayward and has not returned to our family home for several months.”
“I wish to express my sincerest appreciation to so many of you from the Union City Community who have expressed your kindness and empathy for the victim and his family, the Manteca community, and for me,” he wrote in conclusion. “You are the true spirit of character that makes this community so great.”
But Prabhjot Singh, one of the founders of the nationwide Sikh civil-rights group The Sikh Coalition, told ABC7 that the identity of the attacker, or his family, doesn’t matter nearly as much as the harm that was done to Natt and the Sikh community. Just last week, NBC Bay Area reported, another Sikh man was attacked in Keyes, about half an hour south of Manteca. Assailants reportedly beat the man and “spray-painted a neo-Nazi symbol on his truck.”
“It doesn’t matter that the assailant was the son of a police chief. It could have been anyone,” Singh said. “Unfortunately, there’s lots of people in our society who have hate inside of them or they may be misguided [...] and they choose to take out their own frustrations on people who look different.”