'Why did you come here and invade my country?' — Marine vet arrested in alleged acid attack on Hispanic man

news

VIDEO: Hispanic man injured in acid attack and questioned about citizenship

Editor's note: This story has been updated

A purported Marine Corps veteran has been arrested in connection to an attack on a Hispanic man in Wisconsin during which the suspect allegedly threw battery acid in the victim's face and subjected him to an anti-immigrant tirade, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.


Clifton A. Blackwell, 61, was arrested on Saturday night in south Milwaukee in connection to a Friday night altercation with 42-year-old Mahmud Villalaz, a U.S. citizen who immigrated from Peru, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

Villalaz, who suffered second-degree burns to his face during the incident, claimed that his attacker asked "why did you come here and invade my country?" before throwing battery acid on him, the Associated Press reports.

Left, Clifton A. Blackwell; right, Mahmud Villalaz(Milwaukee Police Department/Associated Press)

The incident occurred after Blackwell and Villalaz got into a verbal altercation over how the latter had parked his truck.

"Because I was parked wrong. I'm going to my truck, and I move it half a block there," Villalaz told local ABC News affiliate WISN-12. "Then I get out to go to the restaurant, and the guy's still there with a bottle in his hands."

That's when Blackwell allegedly accused Villalaz of being an "illegal," throwing the contents of the bottle in the Villalaz's face when he responded.

"I think I pissed him off because I told him, 'This is my country. This isn't your country. Everybody came from somewhere else here,'" Villalaz said. "The feeling was burning, and I tried to defend myself, but I couldn't because I couldn't open my eyes."

"I believe (I) am a victim of a hate crime because (of) how he approached me telling me to 'get out this country,'" he added. "This is pretty much a terrorist attack."

According to records obtained by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Blackwell was previously charged with two counts apiece of brandishing a firearm and false imprisonment. From the newspaper.

According to the criminal complaint, on Nov. 19 of that year he called the sheriff after riding his tractor out to four men, two with rifles, who had come onto his farm field in the Town of Lawrence, tracking a deer. Blackwell pointed a loaded rifle at the men and told them to disarm, then marched them back to his house where he photographed their faces and hunting tags and told them they were guilty of criminal trespass.

Blackwell called the sheriff's office but wound up charged himself. Prosecutors dropped one of each of the charges, and Blackwell pleaded no contest to one count each of pointing a firearm and false imprisonment. He was sentenced to 379 days in jail.

Speaking to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Backwell's mother stated that her son had been under the care of the Milwaukee VA Medical Center for service-connected post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Once you've been in the service, you look at the world a different way," Jacqueline Blackwell, a California psychologist and herself a military veteran, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "I don't know if people can understand if they haven't been there."

A Marine Corps spokeswoman, Yvonne Carlock, told Task & Purpose that the service "did not have a record matching the info they provided for the perpetrator."


U.S. Army Rangers resting in the vicinity of Pointe du Hoc, which they assaulted in support of "Omaha" Beach landings on "D-Day," June 6, 1944. (Public domain)

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

For one veteran who fought through the crossfires of German heavy machine guns in the D-Day landings, receiving a Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of his service and that of his World War II comrades would be "quite meaningful."

Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to award the Army Rangers of World War II the medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Read More Show Less
(Associated Press photo)

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.

Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.

Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."

"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.

Read More Show Less

On a military base, a black flag is bad news. That means it's too hot outside to do anything strenuous, so training and missions are put off until conditions improve.

As the climate changes, there could be plenty more black flag days ahead, especially in Florida, a new analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists found. America's military bases could see an average of an extra month of dangerously hot days by mid-century. In Florida, they could quadruple.

Pentagon data shows heat-related illnesses and injuries are on the rise in every branch of the military. Last year, nearly 2,800 troops suffered heatstroke or heat exhaustion, a roughly 50 percent jump from 2014.

"I think most of us, if we hear there are tens of thousands of cases of heat stress in our troops every year, our minds would go to where they were deployed," said Kristy Dahl, a senior climate scientist at UCS and the lead author of the study. "But more than 90% of the military cases of heatstroke happened right here at home."

Read More Show Less
In this March 12, 2016, file photo, Marines of the U.S., left, and South Korea, wearing blue headbands on their helmets, take positions after landing on a beach during the joint military combined amphibious exercise, called Ssangyong, part of the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea. (Associated Press/Yonhap/Kim Jun-bum)

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States and South Korea said on Sunday they will postpone upcoming military drills in an effort to bolster a stalled peace push with North Korea, even as Washington denied the move amounted to another concession to Pyongyang.

The drills, known as the Combined Flying Training Event, would have simulated air combat scenarios and involved an undisclosed number of warplanes from both the United States and South Korea.

Read More Show Less

An opening ceremony will be held Monday on Hawaii island for a military exercise with China that will involve about 100 People's Liberation Army soldiers training alongside U.S. Army counterparts.

This comes after Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spoke on Veterans Day at Punchbowl cemetery about the "rules-based international order" that followed U.S. victory in the Pacific in World War II, and China's attempts to usurp it.

Those American standards "are even more important today," Davidson said, "as malicious actors like the Communist Party of China seek to redefine the international order through corruption, malign cyber activities, intellectual property theft, restriction of individual liberties, military coercion and the direct attempts to override other nations' sovereignty."

Read More Show Less