An Oak Forest, Illinois, police officer—who was among three people arrested in Huntington Beach for the stabbing of a teen who says he was targeted for speaking in Arabic—is a good neighbor, according to Muslims who live next door to him.
“They’re great people and they’re good with both of us,” one of the Tinley Park neighbors of Arthur Roman, the 28-year-old cop, reportedly told CBS Chicago.
Karam Jarrah, 17, says he and his brother-in-law Asem Dghem were walking home past the 24 Hour Fitness at 303 3rd St., Huntington Beach, around 4 p.m. Sunday when a man inside a car with another man and woman yelled out, “What’s up ‘obamabam?”
Jarrah told KABC7, “I don’t even know what that means. So, I said, ‘What?’ and he said, ‘What’s up ‘obamabam?’ He said it like he was mad.”
Dghem told reporters he has faced such “anger” before and tried to diffuse the situation “nicely.”
But the confrontation turned violent, and the younger of the two men who had been in the car pulled out a knife and stabbed Jarrah, the alleged victims told police.
“When I stood up, it was just like a fountain squirting blood, like blood everywhere,” said Jarrah, who was later treated at a local hospital with non life threatening injuries.
The attackers got back in the car and drove off, but police caught up with it a short time later. Arrested were Roman, his 25-year-old brother Martin and Martin’s wife Jessica, 27. The couple resides in Lake Forest.
The trio was held on suspicion of battery and assault with a deadly weapon, according to Officer Jennifer Marlatt, the Huntington Beach Police Department spokeswoman. They have since been released on bond.
The Orange County District Attorney’s office has not yet filed charges as the police investigation continues. Detectives have not yet confirmed race motivated the attack, Marlatt said.
Whatever the motivation was, Dghem is puzzled a cop was involved.
“They have to actually protect us, not stab us,” Dghem told KABC. “He’s a police officer, actually, he’s supposed to be role model.”
Roman has been placed on administrative leave, according to the Oak Forest Police Department.