A San Francisco man was arrested on suspicion of threatening to shoot a woman wearing a hijab because she is Muslim, police said Thursday.
Joshua Ruano, 27, is being held on suspicion of making a criminal threat with a hate-crime enhancement, according to the San Francisco Police Department.
The woman and her toddler son were playing in a park just after 7 p.m. March 17 near the Mission District when Ruano approached her, police said in a written statement.
He allegedly made anti-Muslim comments and threatened to shoot her, according to the Police Department.
“The victim and her son fled the area to get away from the suspect,” police said.
Police were notified about the threat and searched the area. They found Ruano several blocks away from the park. He was arrested and booked into the San Francisco County Jail.
Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations San Francisco Bay Area, said hate crimes targeting Muslims and those who are mistaken for Muslim are on the rise.
“This incident in San Francisco reminds all of us of the critical work to be done in our own communities to prevent hate crimes and protect each other,” she said. “We applaud this woman who was targeted while with her child for bravely coming forward and hope it will encourage others to also seek help.”
According to U.S. Department of Justice hate-crime statistics, reports of anti-Muslim crimes have increased 9.5 percentage points from 2010 to 2015.
Of the 1,354 religious hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2015 — the most recent year of reporting available — just over 22% targeted Muslims. The majority of religiously motivated hate crimes that year, or just over 51%, were described as being anti-Semitic.
In North Carolina this week, a Muslim mother in a hijab said a man pointed a long gun at her as she breast-fed her baby in her car at a shopping center, the Charlotte Observer reported.
CAIR has asked police to investigate that case as a possible hate crime.