A Muslim teenager was recently allegedly attacked at Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody by a man who called repeatedly called her a “terrorist,” according to the Dunwoody Police Department.
“We are actively working the incident right now, including reviewing video footage” from the mall parking lot, said Sgt. Aaron Belt of the DPD.
The alleged incident happened Friday, April 14, when the 14-year-old girl, who was wearing a hijab, and two teen friends and an adult went to eat dinner at Maggiano’s Little Italy. As they were walking in the parking lot at about 9:40 p.m., a man approached them and pulled off the girl’s scarf and repeatedly yelled “terrorist” at her, Belt said.
“The unknown man forcefully pulled off her scarf,” he said.
Chief Billy Grogan called the alleged incident “unusual” for Dunwoody and asked the public’s help in the investigation.
“Dunwoody is a very diverse community, welcoming people of all faiths. Therefore, an incident such as this one is unusual,” Grogan said in a statement. “The Dunwoody Police Department is committed to protecting our citizens and will conduct a thorough investigation.”
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-GA), praised the Dunwoody Police Department for its quick action.
“We are very happy with the response,” he said.”Chief Grogan has been helpful and quick.”
CAIR-GA is also offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who can identify the suspect, he said. The family is also willing to not press charges against the suspect if he voluntarily comes forward and takes responsibility for his actions, Mitchell said.
Mitchell said the girl and her family reported the incident to his organization, which tracks bias against Muslim people and institutions, on Saturday, April 15, and then reported it to the Dunwoody Police Department.
The girl and her family moved to Dunwoody last year, Mitchell said.
“The girl is shaken up. The mother is overwhelmed,” he said. “This is not a welcoming ‘home-warming.’”
Attacks against Muslim Americans is not unusual, Mitchell added, but is rare in Georgia.
“Sadly this is not surprising. Muslim American women … are considered prime targets because of their visibility …and sometimes considered easy prey because they are women,” he said.
“But this is unusual in Georgia. And it’s the first time I’ve heard of a teenage girl being attacked,” he said.
The Atlanta Initiative Against Anti-Semitism, a new grassroots group founded by Dunwoody-area mothers, also praised the DPD’s response.
“Atlanta Initiative Against Anti-Semitism finds this blatant disrespect and harassment reprehensible and fully supports Dunwoody Police Department’s efforts to apprehend the culprit of this senseless act. Furthermore, it is imperative that our entire community stand in solidarity against hate to ensure the safety and well-being of all,” Lauren Menis, the Dunwoody homemaker who helped found the group, said in a statement.
The Dunwoody Police Department is asking that anybody who may have witnessed the incident or has information regarding the suspect to contact Detective Waldron at 678-382-6911 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Anonymous tips may be submitted via the “Submit a Crime Tip” tab at www.dunwoodypolice.com, or by texting C-R-I-M-E-S (274-637). Use the key word DPDTIPS at the start of your message.