A 71-year-old landlord killed a 6-year-old boy and wounded his mother because of their Muslim faith and in response to the war between Israel and Hamas, police say.
Will County sheriff’s deputies responded to a call in Plainfield Township, Ill., late Saturday morning and found suspect Joseph Czuba sitting in front of a home near South Lincoln Highway and Lily Cache Road.
Czuba was bloodied from a cut on his forehead, and inside the home, police discovered the body of little Wadea Al-Fayoume, a Palestinian-American boy who had recently celebrated his sixth birthday.
The boy suffered 26 stab wounds from a large military-style knife, according to the autopsy, while his mother, Hanaan Shahin, 32, survived being stabbed more than a dozen times.
Czuba allegedly shouted, “You Muslims must die!” at the family ahead of the stabbing, according to text messages sent to the boy’s father.
“Detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the on-going Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis,” the Will County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Officials said the victims were rushed to the hospital, with Al-Fayoume declared dead and Shahin in critical condition but expected to survive.
The mother and son had lived on the ground floor of Czuba’s home for about two years, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Chicago chapter, who condemned the violence.
The group said the landlord “had been angry with what he was seeing in the news” and went to knock on the family’s door.
He was charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of hate crimes and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
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