A man who allegedly punched the owner of a food mart in Astoria in the face and told him, "I kill Muslims," has been charged with a hate crime, according to prosecutors.

The Queens District Attorney's office announced yesterday [pdf] that 55-year-old Piro Kolvani has been indicted on a slew of assault charges, including third degree assault as a hate crime, stemming from an incident on December 5th in which he allegedly attacked Fatima Food Mart owner Sarker Haque. Kolvani, who is from Jacksonville, Florida, is accused of entering Haque's store and picking up various items before telling him, "I kill Muslims," and repeatedly punching him in the face.

"I say, what do you want, what are you looking for? And he don’t say nothing, he don't answer me," Haque told CBS 2 soon after the assault. "He just punched me, but then I fall down here, and then I was screaming, ‘what the hell are you doing? What’s wrong with you buddy?’ And again he was ready to punch and then he said 'I'm going to kill Muslims.'"

Haque, who moved to Astoria from Bangladesh nearly 30 years ago, sustained bleeding and bruising in the incident. Kolvani's attorney says his client was not targeting Haque because of his religion, and claims Kolvani's wife is Muslim. "We're disputing any claim that there were words uttered by my client that indicated any type of hate crime," he told DNAinfo.

Kolvani faces up to four years in prison if convicted.