LEWISTON — A pair of Lewiston men were charged Tuesday afternoon following an exchange inside a fast-food restaurant prosecutors believe may constitute a hate crime.

Joshua Baldwin, 28, of 11 Highland Ave., was charged with assault after allegedly shoving a teenager inside Burger King on Lisbon Street.

William Panzino, 28, of 50 West Bates St., was charged with criminal threatening after police said he made a threat involving a gun.

In 8th District Court on Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Kate Bozeman said of Baldwin’s role in the scrap, “It also appears this is potentially racially motivated” and that the case would be referred to the Attorney General’s Office for investigation as a possible hate crime.

The altercation occurred at about 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, police said, as Ayub Sharlot and Abdinasir Mohamed were eating lunch at Burger King.

“Sitting two booths over were William Panzino and Joshua Baldwin,” according to an affidavit prepared by police Detective Thomas Murphy. “Baldwin and Panzino began making comments about Mohamed and Sharlot. Through my investigation, I learned that the groups were not previously associated with each other.”

According to Murphy, Baldwin made eye contact with Sharlot and asked how his meal was.

“Sharlot replied back that his meal was fine,” according to the affidavit. Sharlot asked Baldwin how his meal was and Baldwin replied that his meal was good because he didn’t have to sell crack to pay for it.

According to Sharlot and Mohamed, Baldwin and Panzino continued to make comments about Sharlot and Mohamed not having fathers.

“Sharlot gets up and confronts Baldwin and asks why he has a problem with them,” the affidavit states. “Baldwin gets up and takes a step forward and shoves Sharlot violently. Sharlot does not retaliate but the two groups exchange words. The altercation leads to threats by Panzino and a firearm being involved by Panzino.”

According to court testimony, Panzino was carrying a gun at the time of the dispute, although it was not clear if he displayed the weapon. Police said they reviewed footage from Burger King surveillance cameras as part of their investigation.

Baldwin and Panzino were arrested. Panzino was released from the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn shortly after his arrest and has yet to make a court appearance.

Baldwin was held at the jail on $300 cash bail. His attorney at the hearing, Lorne Fairbanks, said Baldwin works for Panzino and has no felony convictions.

In 2011, Panzino spent two weeks in jail after pleading guilty to reckless conduct after admitting that he intentionally ran down another man with his car at the yearly carnival at Great Falls Plaza in Auburn.