Third suspect arrested in torture of pizza delivery driver

June 25, 2003

NEW BEDFORD, R.I. -- Police arrested the third of four suspects who allegedly tortured a pizza delivery driver they mistakenly believed was a Muslim.

According to the Associated Press, delivery driver Saurabh Bhalerao, 24, was attacked on June 21 while delivering a pizza. (See related story One arrested, others sought, in kidnapping, torture of pizza delivery driver.)

The suspects originally intended to rob Bhalerao but began beating and burning him with cigarettes when they assumed he was a Muslim. Despite Bhalerao's explanation that he is a Hindu, the men continued beating the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth graduate student.

"He pleaded with his attackers," said Fairhaven police Chief Gary F. Souza. "They were using disparaging remarks ... and telling him he should go back to Iraq."

After tying Bhalerao and putting him in the trunk of his own car, the men drove to the neighboring town of Fairhaven. During the drive Bhalerao loosened the ropes and hit one of his assailants with a hammer when they stopped the car and opened the trunk. An assailant then stabbed Bhalerao as he fled, police said.

Police are searching for a fourth suspect, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations has called for a federal investigation.

Topics: Crime , Operations Management

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