A Massachusetts man is facing hate crime charges after he allegedly shouted slurs at and kicked a Muslim airline employee in the Delta Sky Lounge at Kennedy Airport Wednesday night, prosecutors say.
The suspect, 57-year-old Robin A. Rhodes of Worcester, landed at JFK Airport from Aruba Wednesday evening, where he was to take a connecting flight back to Massachusetts, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.
As he waited inside the Delta Sky Lounge at Terminal 2, he approached a Delta employee in her office, according to the DA. She was wearing a hijab.
“Are you [expletive] sleeping? Are you praying? What are you doing?” Rhodes allegedly said to the employee before punching the door, which hit the back of the employee’s chair.
When the employee asked what she’d done to Rhodes to make him angry, he allegedly responded: “You did nothing, but I am going to kick your [expletive].”
He then kicked her in the right leg, prosecutors said, and when she tried to get away from him by retreating to a corner of the office, he kicked the door, stepped into the office and blocked her from leaving.
When someone else came over to the office to try to calm Rhodes down, he moved away from the door, and the employee ran out of the office to the lounge’s front desk.
But Rhodes still followed her, then got down on his knees and began to bow down, mimicking a Muslim prayer, prosecutors said, and allegedly shouted, “[Expletive] Islam, [expletive] ISIS, Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you. You can ask Germany, Belgium and France about these kinds of people. You will see what happens.”
As he was being arrested, Rhodes allegedly told police, “I guess I am going to jail for disorderly conduct. I couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman because their back was to me and they had something covering their head.”
Port Authority police and NYPD conducted the investigation.
Rhodes was waiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on hate crime, assault, harassment, unlawful imprisonment and menacing charges. It wasn’t clear if he had an attorney who could comment on the charges.
If convicted, Rhodes faces up to four years in prison.