MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — A grocery store customer who was assaulted during an encounter with a group of people in Gaithersburg said one person in the group made anti-Jewish comments towards him before hitting him and causing him to pass out.
The Montgomery County Department of Police said they arrested 19-year-old Eugene Thompson of Washington, D.C. for the assault that took place in the Giant in the 18200 block of Flower Hill Way.
Detectives said around 3:50 p.m. on Jan. 24, the man who was hurt was shopping when he saw Thompson and some other people creating a disturbance.
According to court documents, the man said the group was throwing fruit and other grocery items at customers and stealing doughnuts from a display case. The man said he approached the group and asked everyone to stop. He said the group surrounded him and that someone threw something, possibly a lime, at his head. There was an argument, and at some point, the man unzipped his hooded sweatshirt. The Star of David necklace he was wearing became visible.
The man said Thompson — who first identified himself as Michael Stewart and told police he was 30 years old — put his hands up as if to fight. The paperwork stated that Thompson, “then stated something along the lines of ‘Lets go f***ing Jew.'” The man, afraid for his safety, told police he tried to talk the group down, but Thompson began throwing punches. While being hit, the man said he heard people in the group yelling, ‘Yeah, do it for Kanye.”
The man told the emergency dispatcher who took his call that he believed he was beaten up because he was Jewish.
The document says Thompson took the man to the ground during the encounter, and the man said once he was on the ground, Thompson began to smash his head. The man said he lost consciousness and couldn’t remember all of the details of what happened after that. He added that he has a traumatic brain injury from a previous incident and has other neurological issues.
That’s when everyone surrounded him and Thompson started making anti-Semitic statements and physically assaulting the man, causing him to lose consciousness. Thompson and the other people left the store. The man’s keys were taken after the assault.
Officers and medics provided medical treatment to the man before he went to the hospital with serious injuries. Police expected him to survive.
Maurice Freeman went to Giant to visit his friend who works there and make sure they were okay after the attack.
“It’s just a sad time in America, you know, it’s just so much hate that has been brewing,” said Freeman.
Police found Thompson at the McDonald’s restaurant in the 18200 block of Flower Hill Way and arrested him.
As they searched Thompson, police said they found the man’s keys which had been taken from him.
The police department said Thompson faces a charge of first-degree Assault as well as charges related to robbery. He was being held without bond as of Thursday. The state’s attorney’s office was working with MCPD to also charge him with a hate crime.