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Man charged with hate crime in Saratoga

Assault charged as hate crime in Saratoga Springs.

On Saturday, Dec. 18, Saratoga Springs Police responded to Compton's Restaurant on Broadway around 5:35 a.m. to a report of a large fight inside the establishment. According to police reports, responding officers found the victim of an assault still inside the restaurant, having been hit over the head with a plate, causing a deep laceration that required treatment at the Saratoga Springs Emergency Room.

Several suspects were located nearby and witnesses ultimately identified four men as being involved in the attack, said police, prompting the arrest of Justin Tavarez, 19, of the Bronx; Sakhile Sithole, 20, of Skidmore College; Elijah Johnston, 18, of Brooklyn; and Korvin Vicente, 19, of the Bronx, on various charges.

Tavarez was charged with assault in the second degree and criminal mischief in the fourth degree, both as a hate crime, as well as criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. Sithole, Johnston and Vicente were all charged with assault in the third degree.

According to police, the four individuals who have been arrested were in Compton's around 5:30 a.m. when a white male and black male arrived and took a seat nearby. According to witnesses and the police investigation, Tavarez, Sithole, Johnston and Vicente took issue with the two individuals, specifically questioning why a black man was sitting with a white man, and began taunting them and making racially derogatory statements toward the two.

When the black male stepped away from the table, the incident began to escalate with Tavarez attacking the white male, striking him with a plate over the head, according to police, and with Sithole, Johnston and Vicente then joining in the assault, punching and kicking the victim as he lay on the floor.

Employees of Compton's and the victim's friend eventually were able to pull the four defendants off of the victim and call police, who then stopped the four as they were leaving Compton's, said police.

The investigation is continuing and police said additional or upgraded charges are possible.

Check back to spotlightnews.com for updates on this story.

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