An MTS trolley. Courtesy of the transit agency

A man suspected of threatening the lives of an emigre family of four from Afghanistan and assaulting the patriarch as they rode a trolley near Mission Valley was arrested Thursday on hate crime charges.

Robert Compton, 48, is accused of belligerently confronting the recently arrivals to San Diego while the light-rail tram was passing through the Grantville area shortly before noon last Wednesday, according to police.

“The family was getting a tour of the city from a Catholic charity that was helping them with their transition,” SDPD public-affairs Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said.

During the hostile encounter, Compton allegedly threatened to kill the victims, told them to “go back to where you came from,” said he hated them and punched the father, leaving him with facial fractures.

Following the assault, the suspect got off the trolley and fled.

Detectives soon identified Compton as the suspected perpetrator of the crimes. He was taken into custody Thursday afternoon in the 800 block of Market Street, near Petco Park in the East Village.

“Our department does not tolerate violent acts motivated by hate and will investigate all incidents to ensure the safety of all members of our community,” Takeuchi said.

Compton also is suspected of carrying out another unprovoked local assault — one not believed to have been a hate crime — last Friday, according to police. Details on that attack were not immediately available.

— City News Service

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