WILL COUNTY, Ill. — A man accused of brutally killing a 6-year-old boy and seriously injuring his 32-year-old mother in unincorporated Plainfield Township is facing hate crime charges, according to the Will County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities say 71-year-old Joseph Czuba has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of hate crime and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

Detectives say they were able to determine that both victims were allegedly targeted by the suspect due to their Muslim faith and the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The charges stem from a violent attack that occurred at a home in the 16200 block of South Lincoln Highway, just after 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Will County deputies and officers from the Plainfield Police Department initially responded to the scene on reports that a woman was allegedly being attacked by her landlord with a knife. Authorities say the woman told authorities that she ran into a bathroom of the home while fighting off her attacker while dialing 911.

Will County deputies and officers from the Plainfield Police Department responded and after arriving on the scene, they located Czuba, who was sitting outside of the home. According to deputies, Czuba was found sitting upright near the driveway and had suffered a laceration to his forehead. Currently, it is unclear how he sustained the wound.

Deputies entered the home and found the two victims, a 6-year-old boy who had suffered 26 stab wounds and a 32-year-old woman who had been stabbed over a dozen times.

It was initially reported by authorities on Saturday that the victim was 8 years old, deputies later confirmed that the child was actually 6 years old.

Following an autopsy, deputies say it was determined that the 6-year-old boy had been stabbed with a serrated military-style knife that had a seven-inch blade.

The 32-year-old woman was transported in serious condition and is expected to survive.

During questioning, Czuba did not make any statements to authorities regarding his alleged involvement in the attack, but deputies say authorities were able to gather enough information through interviews and evidence to formally charge him.

Family members of the victims gathered on Sunday with support from leaders from the Chicago Office of the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR).

Leaders say they are outraged after the young Palestinian-American boy was stabbed to death and his mother, who is recovering in the hospital, was stabbed over a dozen times. Leaders say the boy was an innocent bystander who fell victim to hate connected to the recent tensions between Israel and Hamas.

“He paid the price for the atmosphere of hate and otherization and dehumanization that, frankly, I think we are seeing here in the United States as a result of the irresponsible leadership and lopsided, one-sided statements and coverage that we are seeing in the media,” Ahmed Rehab, the Executive Director of the Chicago Office of the Council on Islamic-American Relations, said during a press conference on Sunday afternoon.

During the news conference, Rehab identified the 6-year-old boy as Wadea Al-Fayoumi and said he loved toys, sports, and coloring and had just celebrated his 6th birthday.

CAIR officials say Wadea lived on the first floor of the home with his mother, Hanaan Shahin, and family members say the two moved to the U.S. to escape settler violence.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker released a statement about the attack on Sunday evening:

To take a six year child’s life in the name of bigotry is nothing short of evil.

Wadea should be heading to school in the morning. Instead, his parents will wake up without their son. This wasn’t just a murder — it was a hate crime.

And every single Illinoisan — including our Muslin, Jewish and Palestinian neighbors — deserve to live free from the threat of such evil.

Today, MK and I join our Muslim and Palestinian brothers and sisters in mourning this tragic loss and praying for the recovery of Wadea’s mother. May Wadea Al-Fayoume’s memory be a blessing.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker