A 64-year-old Florida man tried to set fire to a convenience store, whose owners are of Indian descent, because he wanted to "run the Arabs out of our country".
Richard Lloyd was arrested on Friday (10 March) after he pushed a dumpster in front of the Met Mart convenience store and set fire to its contents in the early hours of the morning.
Police were alerted to a white male acting suspiciously in front of the establishment – which was closed at the time – in Port St Lucie.
In a statement, St Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said: "When the deputies arrived, they noticed the dumpster had been rolled in front of the doors and the contents were lit on fire."
He added: "Upon seeing our deputies, the man put his hands behind his back and said 'take me away.'"
"The man, identified as Richard Lloyd, was read his Miranda Rights and then told deputies that he pushed the dumpster to the front of the building, tore down signs posted to the outside of the store and lit the contents of the dumpster on fire to 'run the Arabs out of our country'."
Mascara continued: "It's unfortunate that Mr Lloyd made the assumption that the store owners were Muslim when, in fact, they are of Indian descent."
He added: "Regardless, we will not tolerate violence based on age, race, colour, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, homeless status, mental or physical disability."
Lloyd will face a mental health evaluation and the state attorney's office will determine whether his actions constitute a hate crime.
According to reports, Lloyd said he presumed the shop owner was Muslim and expressed his contempt "due to what they are doing in the Middle East".
Lloyd had reportedly tried to buy a bottle of Tropicana juice at the same store just days earlier, but was informed that they did not have any.
In an interview with investigators, Lloyd claimed that he was "doing his part for America", according to CBS12.com.
Lloyd was charged with first degree arson and is being held at St Lucie County jail in lieu of a $30,000 (£24,539) bond.
In February, two Indian men were shot as they drank in a Kansas bar. The suspect was identified as 51-year-old Adam W Purinton, who reportedly shouted "get out of my country" before opening fire.
Engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla died from his injuries while his friend, Alok Madasani, survived despite being shot in the leg.
Ian Grillot, 24, was also shot in the hand and chest as he intervened in an attempt to defend the two victims.