CNN
 — 

A Chicago-area landlord has been arrested and charged with murder and hate crimes after authorities said he stabbed and killed a 6-year-old boy and seriously wounded his mother, allegedly because the tenants are Muslim.

According to the Will County Sheriff’s Office, Joseph M. Czuba, 71, has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of a hate crime and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Authorities say they were called to the residence in unincorporated Plainfield Township, Illinois, approximately 40 miles outside Chicago, just before noon on Saturday after a woman called 911 saying her landlord had attacked her.

When deputies arrived, they found Czuba sitting outside and the victims in a bedroom. The boy had been stabbed 26 times, and his mother had been stabbed over a dozen times, the sheriff’s office said.

The victims were taken to the hospital, but the boy later died from his injuries, authorities said. His mother is recovering in a local hospital and expected to survive.

The sheriff’s office said Czuba did not make a statement to detectives after being brought to the Will County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Complex, but investigators were able to determine the victims were “targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the on-going Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis.”

The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a news release identifying the victims as Hanaan Shahin, 32, and her son, Wadea Al-Fayoume.

CAIR said they had lived on the ground floor of the house for two years without trouble with Czuba, but in texts to the boy’s father from the hospital after the attack, Shahin said he “knocked on their door, and when she opened, he tried to choke her and proceeded to attack her with a knife, yelling, ‘You Muslims must die!’” according to the CAIR statement.

On Saturday, Israel’s military said its forces are readying for the next stages of the war in response to the unprecedented October 7 attacks by the Islamist militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza. At least 1,400 people were killed during Hamas’ rampage, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told CNN on Sunday.

Nearly 1 million Gazans have been forced from their homes in the week since the Hamas attack and the ensuing Israeli retaliation, UNRWA, the UN agency that assists Palestinians, said Saturday.

Czuba was transported to the Will County Adult Detention Facility and is awaiting his initial court appearance, according to the sheriff’s office. It is unclear if he has an attorney.

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