Viral video of attack on Asian-American couple leads to arrest of 15-year-old suspect


TACOMA, WA – Tacoma police arrested a teen suspected of assaulting an elderly Korean-American couple in a hate crime that occurred nearly five months ago. The assault was captured on video and widely circulated on social media.

The video from November 19 shows an older couple walking through a neighborhood when two teenage boys rushed up to them. A teen appears to try to kick the elderly man but falls to the ground.

As the elderly man tries to help the teen stand, the teen begins punching the male repeatedly as the helpless woman holds her husband’s arm and shouts at the attacker.

Another teen in the video stood close by watching the assault, while a third teen videotaped the attack. Police believe a fourth teen was also involved.

Police said they did not connect the video to the attack until the elderly couple’s daughter recognized their relatives in the footage. They said they only learned of the video on March 30.

Tacoma Police Public Information Officer Wendy Haddow said the attack appeared random and that the victims did not know the attackers saying, “They had never seen them before, never dealt with them before.”

Police said the 15-year-old teen arrested was the one who threw the punches during the assault. The suspect was not identified by authorities because he is a juvenile. Police said the suspect would be charged with second-degree assault.

The video was used by investigators to identify the teen, and he was taken into custody on Friday as he arrived at a detention review hearing for an unrelated robbery case.

The victims have not been identified by authorities.

The victims gave an interview to local media on March 31, in which the 56-year-old man said he did not know why he was attacked. “I just don’t understand why I was attacked,” he said.

When asked by a reporter if he believed he was targeted because he was Asian-American, the man said:

“I have to think so. I’m Asian. I’m older, and I’m not that big. I still don’t understand. This (has) changed my life.”

The man said the attack happened without warning:

“I thought they were messing around with each other and accidentally bumped into me. So, I asked, ‘You OK? (sic) You OK?

“A fist came flying in (and) hit me right here, and I started bleeding.”

Anti-Asian attacks have been steadily increasing dramatically across the country since the pandemic began. In New York City, for example, 28 arrests were made for hate crimes targeting Asians in 2020, up from three in 2019 and two in 2018, according to the New York Police Department.

According to data from Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit that tracks incidents of discrimination, more than 3,000 anti-Asian attacks occurred between March 19, 2020 and February 28, 2021.  The group said they believe the number is only a fraction of the true number of crimes.

In Tacoma, PIO Haddow said the decision on whether to prosecute the case as a hate crime will be made by the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office.

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Elderly Asian woman refuses to become a victim – fights back and puts her attacker in the hospital

March 18, 2021


SAN FRANCISCO, CA – 76-year-old Xiao Zhen Xie refused to become the latest victim of violence against Asians in the Bay Area. The elderly woman was attacked and punched by a man in the street Wednesday but fought back, leaving him battered and bloodied on an ambulance stretcher.

The unprovoked attack occurred around 10:30 a.m. in downtown San Francisco. Xie, translated through her daughter Dong-Mei Li for KPIX5, said she was waiting at a traffic signal when the suspect punched her in her left eye.

Although injured, Xie decided not to become a victim and fought back. Her daughter said:

“She found the stick around the area and fought back.”

KPIX5 Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell came upon the scene just after the attack occurred:

“There was a guy on a stretcher and a frustrated angry woman with a stick in her hand.”

O’Donnell captured video of the scene on his cellphone. The video shows Xie holding a large board in one hand and an ice bag in the other. She begins shouting at a man lying on a stretcher with a bloodied face and a stunned look on his face. Xie was shouting in Chinese, “You bum, why did you hit me?”

O’Donnell described the shocking scene:

“There was a guy on a stretcher and a frustrated angry woman with a stick in her hand. From what I could see, she wanted more of the guy on the stretcher and the police were holding her back.”

The attacker was transported to the hospital for his injuries. His condition has not been released.

Xia was also taken to the hospital for injuries sustained in the assault. Li said her mother cannot see out of her left eye and has not been able to eat. Her family said the elderly woman has been afraid since the attack. Her grandson John Chen said:

“As you can see, she is extremely terrified, she’s terrified to even step out.”

The family of Xiao Zhen Xie has set up a GoFundMe page to defray medical costs associated with her injuries. The fund, set up by her grandson, says:

“I am amazed by her bravery. She was the one that defended herself from this unprovoked attack. But she is now suffering two serious black eyes and one that is bleeding unstoppably. Her wrist has also swelled up. She has been severely affected mentally, physically, and emotionally.

“She also stated that she is afraid to step out of her home from now on. This traumatic event has left her with PTSD. Although she has health insurance that covers the basics, there are still many medical expenses that cannot be covered on her own.”

San Francisco police identified the assailant as a 39-year-old San Francisco resident, but did not release his name. Officials said the motive for the attack was not clear, but the man is suspected of attacking an 83-year-old Asian man earlier Wednesday morning.

Police said they are working to determine if race was a factor in the attacks and are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. Police Chief Bill Scott said:

“We have to do our job and we have to investigate these cases with all resources brought to bear and we need to make arrests, and we’ve done that.”



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