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Milwaukee police say district attorney's office will decide whether acid attack was a hate crime

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58)-- “He was waiting in the corner with a bottle on the side already opened, and started arguing with me," said Mahud Villalaz.

A victim of a brutal attack on Milwaukee’s south side says the man who hurt him was prepared to do it.

A 61-year-old Milwaukee man is now in jail awaiting charges after an attack Friday night. It happened near 13th and Cleveland, and left 42-year-old Mahud Villalaz with 2nd degree burns and an eye injury.

Surveillance video shows the suspect throwing what police call a 'corrosive liquid' onto Villalaz's face.

Villalaz believes the attack was racially motivated. The suspect argued with him about parking, then asked him why he came to the country, before splashing him with the liquid.

It’s been three days since the attack, and Villalaz's injuries have not gotten much better.

"I have 2nd degree burns, my eye is kind of blurry right now. Emotionally, I’m just thankful that nothing worse happened."

Milwaukee police arrested the suspect Saturday night near 13th and Edgerton, just three miles from where the attack happened.

Police are calling the attack an aggravated battery, which is considered a felony.

"This is not a simple assault or a simple battery, this is not where a person just punched someone else in the face or something like that, this is a very serious crime," said Sergeant Sheronda Grant with the Milwaukee Police Department.

Police say the district attorney's office will be the ones to decide whether the attack was a hate crime.

"Hate crime has to be proven a little bit differently than an aggravated battery,” said Sergeant Grant. “That will be determined by the district attorney in the upcoming days on if a hate crime is going to be charged.”  

"He had intentions to hurt me,” said Villalaz.  

The corrosive liquid that burned Villalaz's skin will be sent to the state's crime lab. Poison experts say corrosive liquids can come from batteries to cleaning products.

"There are corrosive liquids that are used in a lot of industries and for cleaning,” said Matthew Stanton, Clinical Toxicologist from the Wisconsin Poison Center.  

Stanton says injuries from those liquids could be permanent.

"They absolutely can cause permanent scarring and permanent damage,” said Stanton. “Sometimes long term care is needed. Possibly even surgery."

Even after suffering serious injuries, Villalaz wants to focus on healing and moving forward.

"I got two beautiful boys that I want to see growing,” said Villalaz. “I want to be a good dad to them."

Grant says Milwaukee police hope to have charges issued to the district attorney's office by Tuesday. Once charges are filed, the suspect's name will be revealed.

A GoFundMe has been set up for Villalaz, if you'd like to donate, click here

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