By Ruth Bayang
Northwest Asian Weekly
A teenage boy was arrested on April 2 in connection with a filmed attack on an Asian couple that Tacoma police have been investigating as a hate crime.
The investigation began after a video of the attack—which was forwarded to the Northwest Asian Weekly—surfaced on social media.
Police tweeted on April 1 that they had identified the victims, who filed a report last November.
The assault made no mention of the attack being racially motivated at that time, so police did not connect the two incidents until the victims’ daughter came forward after seeing the 26-second video circulating on social media last week. The footage appeared to be filmed by one of three young men involved in the attack.
The video shows an older couple walking behind a grocery store near South 19th Street and South Tyler Street, when a young man runs up to them and repeatedly punches the man, who is 56 years old. The woman, 52, calls out for help in Korean and one of the attackers can be heard saying, “Gotcha.”
A 15-year-old boy was arrested for the assault. He has been charged as a juvenile with second-degree assault. Pierce County Superior Court records state the boy was 14 at the time of the incident.
The couple told police they didn’t know the boy, and that the assault wasn’t provoked.
The woman told police she had no reason to believe the assault was based on her ethnicity but rather the fact that they were older or vulnerable. Her husband suffered a broken rib and was uncomfortable for a couple months. He said the way the suspect filmed the assault made it seem planned.
Hate incidents against Asian Americans have risen since the start of the pandemic, leaving Asians in Washington and nationwide scared and frustrated.
On March 25, police in Seattle arrested a 51-year-old man suspected of targeting and threatening an Asian woman and her children in South Seattle.
The woman was driving and stopped at a red light at Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Graham Street on March 16. She saw the man—who was in another lane—pull his car into a nearby lot and began screaming at her and making threatening gestures, as well as statements about her race.
The woman and her children were able to take photos of the man, and she later posted on social media about the incident.
A Seattle Police Department (SPD)’s Bias Crimes detective contacted the victim, who was able to provide a possible identity for the suspect. Police then located and arrested the man near Georgetown on March 25 and booked him into the King County Jail for malicious harassment, Washington’s hate crime statute.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has charged the man and SPD’s bias crimes detective is also investigating other similar incidents in South Seattle.
SPD said it is documenting and investigating all bias incidents and crimes. If you feel you’ve been victimized, call 911.
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.