Hector Torres, a 44-year-old Brooklyn native, was waiting for a flight at the Reno Airport in Nevada when he was speaking to his mother on the phone. It was at this moment that a wheelchair-bound man named only as ‘Mike’, claiming to be a former soldier, launched into a racist tirade against a Torres for speaking Spanish.
Torres was forced to hang up the phone call with his mother and start filming after hearing the man begin to make racist comments in his direction.
The video begins with Torres explaining to Mike why he was speaking Spanish, saying ‘I’m speaking to my mother in Spanish because that’s her language.’
It is at this time that the wheelchair-bound man loses his cool, unleashing racist epitaphs and curse words. The man in the wheelchair even struck Torres a couple of times.
The video, recorded Thursday, shows a man started yelling at another man for speaking Spanish on the phone to his mother.
“My family who is also all military, who fought just like you did, also lost limbs [interrupted] unbelievable [interrupted] I feel sadness for you,” Torres said in the video “I did the crime of speaking in Spanish, the language she speaks.”
Airport Police responded to the gate area on Concourse C and spoke to both passengers involved as well as witnesses, according to a statement from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
When police arrived, Torres declined to press charges. The passenger who filmed the incident continued on his flight. The man who said the insults and his family did not fly that day.
According to Fox 17, when police arrived, Torres decided not to press charges against “Mike”, who was not on the same flight as Torres.
The airport said in a statement that the altercation is under investigation:
“The security, safety and customer experience of all of our guests will always be our highest priority. The airport will be attempting to reach out to the passenger who made the video of the altercation to express our sincere apologies and support in the wake of the incident. We will also be conducting a thorough investigation into the events of that evening.”
The Airport Authority is deeply saddened to see this type of situation occur at our airport. Every passenger, regardless of race, religion, the language they speak, nation of origin, sexual orientation, age or political belief is welcome at Reno-Tahoe International Airport,” Marily Mora, President and CEO of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority said in a statement.