Hate crime suspect beats Salem restaurant employee with pipe

Jason Kendall (Courtesy: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

A 52-year-old Salem man was arrested and charged with assault and intimidation after he allegedly beat an employee at a Middle Eastern restaurant with a pipe.

Salem police responded to the Al Aqsa Restaurant around at 1326 State Street around 3:05 p.m. after they received a call that a man was punching and causing a disturbance in the area.

The suspect, Jason Kendall, told police he was walking past the restaurant on what he called “a warrior’s path” when he spotted a woman inside the building.

Kendall said he believed the woman was being held as a slave because of the type of shirt she was wearing. He said the shirt was a signal and it was “what Arabs do.”

According to Kendall, he walked into the restaurant, told the woman she was “free to leave,” and started yelling at an employee who Kendall claimed looked like Saddam Hussein.

Officers said Kendall yelled several hateful and explicit statements at the employee, including “go back to your country terrorist” and “get out of America (expletive).”

Employees asked Kendall to leave, but he returned five minutes later with a pipe he dubbed his “horn of Gabriel” and a plastic object that he called an “evil totem.”

Kendall threw the plastic item at the employee’s head and then started hitting him in the head with the pipe, according to police.

After the incident, officers said they felt a small bump on the victim’s head.

Kendall claimed his actions were in self-defense. He said the employee came at him with what he thought was an ice pick that he had been hiding under his napkin.

Officers arrested Kendall on one count of assault, one count of intimidation and one count of unlawful use of a weapon. His bail was set at $65,000.

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