Marine Reservist attacks Greek Priest in Tampa thinking he is a terrorist listen11/10/09 Seán Kinane
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A U.S. Marine Reservist was arrested for attacking a Greek Orthodox Priest in Tampa Monday night. The victim was hit in the head with a tire iron.
The assault might be investigated as a hate crime because the alleged attacker told police an Arabic male tried to rob him and he was going to take him into custody. The Tampa Bay Human Rights Council is condemning the attack; Ahmed Bedier is their president.
Bedier is also the co-host of the WMNF program True Talk.
The Tampa Police say that during a 911 call the suspect, Jasen Bruce, claimed that an Arabic male tried to rob him and he was going to take him into custody. In reality, the victim, Alexios Marakis, is a Greek Orthodox Priest visiting from the island of Crete. Tampa Police spokesperson Laura McElroy says that the victim was looking for directions in a parking garage and tapped the suspect on the arm.
McElroy says the suspect was booked into jail and bonded out after the police determined he should be arrested for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
Bedier says the Human Rights Council has asked the Tampa Police Department and the FBI’s Tampa office to look into whether the case should be prosecuted as a hate crime.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, it was not known whether the suspect has served time overseas or has any military-related mental health concerns. For those reasons, Bedier thinks it is too soon to draw any links between this crime and last week’s mass shooting at Ft. Hood.
WMNF attempted to speak with the victim and the Tarpon Springs church he is visiting, but they did not return calls by airtime. The 911 call has not yet been released.
In an update to this story, minutes before the 6:00 p.m. newscast, WMNF reached Captain Paul Greenberg with the Marine Reserves. He said there is no record of overseas deployment for the suspect in this case, Jasen Bruce. Bruce was in the Marine Reserves from 1998 until 2006 when he got out, according to Greenberg. Bruce rejoined the Marine Reserve in March, 2009. He is with the 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company based in West Palm Beach.
The Associated Press reports that Bruce's defense attorney says Bruce was "defending himself from a sexual attack." The attorney, Jeff Brown says Rev. Marakis followed Bruce into the parking garage of his apartment building, made sexual comments and grabbed Bruce's genitals.