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Very Real

‘I’m Jesus’: Man Allegedly Tries To Strangle Muslim Woman Driver With Her Hijab

Sonya King was forced to fight for her life using only her keys.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt
7 Facts About Hate Crimes In America

A driver for the food delivery service DoorDash was attacked on the job last weekend and had to use her keys to defend herself, after a man claiming to be Jesus allegedly tried to strangle her with her own hijab.

Sonya King, 29, was dropping off an order at a northwest Atlanta residence on Saturday, WSB-TV reports, when the day took a dark turn. When she arrived at the customer’s house, the door was open, and a man told her to come inside and leave the food on the counter.

“He seemed normal. Anybody would have went in,” King said.

As she headed for the door, the man, later identified as 54-year-old Rick Painter, said that he wanted to give her a cash tip. As he rummaged around in his wallet, he remarked, “Oh, and by the way, I’m Jesus,” King told WSB-TV. Saying that tip was included in the delivery, King turned around to leave the residence, but Painter grabbed her headscarf "spinning her around, causing her to lose balance," and also scraping her right hand, according to the police report. King was able to free herself  by striking him with her "car keys at will," and Fox 5 San Diego reports she hooked his eye with a finger.

“He’s grabbing me and trying to choke me with my own niqab. I kept telling that man I’ve got kids. In the midst of me fighting him, he’s grabbing my head,” King told WSB-TV. “He thought he was Jesus, but Jesus wouldn’t do that to nobody.” 

“In the midst of me stabbing this man, he’s saying, ‘Aw this feels good,’” King added.

When police arrived at the residence, they found the door barricaded with a couch, and Painter was naked, covered in “scars, marks and bruises on his head and torso,” Fox 5 Atlanta reports. Puncture wounds littered his face, as seen in the screenshot above.

Painter was arrested and charged with one count of misdemeanor battery and is being held on a $5,000 bond, according to Fox 5 San Diego. He is due in court on May 23. He has previously been arrested for separate cases of battery and assault, Fox 5 San Diego reports. The police report notes that Painter is known to "be demented, and possibly may be."

The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations believes that the punishment Painter received is too light.

“We call on law enforcement authorities to pursue tougher charges against Ronald Painter, who did not simply commit battery. He’s a 6-foot-tall man who allegedly tried to strangle a 5-foot-tall woman to death with her own religious attire,” said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of CAIR-Georgia, according to Fox 5 San Diego. “If Ms. King hadn’t fought back, she might not be alive today.”

In a statement to WSB-TV, a spokesperson for DoorDash spoke out against violence.

“DoorDash takes the safety of its community extremely seriously for Dashers, consumers, and merchants. We do not tolerate violence in any form,” their statement reads. “After learning of this incident, DoorDash took action to deactivate the consumer’s account pending a full investigation. DoorDash is prepared to cooperate with law enforcement to enable them to take swift, appropriate action.”

King is happy to be alive. 

“By the love of Allah, I knew he was not going to allow that man to kill a believer,” she told WSB-TV.

Following the election of Donald Trump, the country has seen an increase in hate crimes, Oxygen reports. According to report from the nonprofit group South Asian Americans Living Together (SAALT) released in February, hate violence against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities living in America grew 45 percent during the first year of Trump’s presidency, with one in five attackers mentioning either Trump’s name, his policies, or his campaign slogans during their attacks.

(Photo: Fulton County Sheriff's Office)