Man sought after prejudice-fueled attack of Middle Eastern Lyft driver in NW Houston, prosecutors say

HOUSTON — A Houston man has been accused of a hate crime after investigators said he attacked a Lyft driver because of the victim’s Middle Eastern heritage, prosecutors announced Thursday.

Matthew W. Dunn, 39, is on the run and charged with an assault that caused bodily injury, according to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

He faces enhanced punishment for selecting a victim based on prejudice against a group identified by race, religion or national origin, under Texas law.

“We came through Harvey because of the cooperation of our diverse communities and their willingness to help each other without regard to race, creed or color,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “A hate crime unleashes fear in an entire community.”

Dunn, who was a Lyft passenger, is accused of berating the driver over his background and religion, then grabbing the driver by the hair, punching him and choking him, while the victim was behind the wheel on the Northwest Freeway, according to court papers.

The incident, which was investigated by the Houston Police Department, occurred in the early morning hours of July 21, 2017.

Dunn faces a minimum of 180 days in jail if convicted of Class A assault and a hate-crimes enhancement that were filed this week.

Crime Stoppers of Houston is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information on Dunn’s whereabouts. Call 713-222-TIPS.