The San Francisco Police Department is increasing patrols in predominately Asian neighborhoods following an “alarming spike in brazen anti-Asian violence in recent weeks” in the Bay Area, the department said.
On Wednesday, a man and a woman, both of Asian descent, were assaulted in San Francisco in separate attacks by the same alleged suspect, police said.
Separately, three men were arrested for their alleged involvement in an assault and robbery of an Asian American man last month inside a San Francisco laundromat.
The police patrols are being increased in coordination with local Asian American and Pacific Islander community organizations, the department said Wednesday.
Violence toward Asian Americans has spiked nationwide, coinciding with the Covid-19 pandemic. Several unprovoked attacks against elderly Asian Americans in the Bay Area this year led, in part, to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office creating a special response unit focused on crimes against Asians, particularly older Asians.
Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old from Thailand, died after he was abruptly attacked while out on a morning walk on January 28, according to San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. A 19-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and elder abuse in the case, he said.
In Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood, police said a man violently shoved three unsuspecting people on January 31, injuring a 91-year-old man, 60-year-old man and 55-year-old woman. A 28-year-old man has been charged with three counts of felony assault for the attacks, according to charging documents.
Elsewhere in California, in response to increases in attacks against people of Asian descent, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and the LA County Sheriff’s Department are meeting with groups in Asian American communities this week to spread awareness and encourages citizens to report threats or suspicious activity.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed, regarding the patrols announced Wednesday, said, “No one should have to live in fear that their race or ethnicity could make them a victim.”
Two people attacked within minutes in San Francisco
On Wednesday morning in San Francisco, an Asian man and woman were assaulted by the same suspect in separate attacks, police said.
“Investigators are working to determine if bias was a motivating factor in the incident,” San Francisco Police Officer Adam Lobsinger said in a statement.
The aftermath of the clash was caught on video by CNN affiliate KPIX. The footage shows a crowd including police officers and paramedics gathered around an Asian woman, who holds an ice pack to the side of her head and face while crying out. A man can be seen on a gurney handcuffed as he is treated by a paramedic.
“He hit people,” the woman is heard saying in the video, speaking in Cantonese. “He bullies old people,” she said, “so I gave a punch.”
The woman says to the man “You jerk,” then tells police, “He bullied me, he bullied me, jerk.”
Both the suspect, a 39-year-old man, and the 75-year-old woman were taken to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, Lobsinger said, with the suspect treated for “an unrelated, prior medical condition.”
Officers had been called after an earlier attack on an 83-year-old man, Lobsinger said. A local security guard pursued the suspect on foot, Lobsinger said, and as he was fleeing, police say he assaulted the woman.
The injured woman told KPIX she had been leaning against a utility pole when the man punched her without provocation.
The victims and suspect have not been officially identified and the incident remains under investigation.
Arrests made in laundromat assault caught on video
Three young men were arrested Wednesday for allegedly robbing and assaulting an older Asian man last month in an attack caught on surveillance video inside a San Francisco laundromat.
The Feb. 23 assault occurred near the Nob Hill and Chinatown neighborhoods. An Asian American man had just taken a seat inside the laundromat when three people charged in, threw down the man and violently robbed him, surveillance video obtained by CNN affiliate KGO-TV showed.
The 67-year-old victim, who was not identified, suffered non-life threatening injuries from the attack, police said.
The men arrested were identified by police as Calvin Berschell, Jason Orozco, and Nolowde Beshears. All three are 19 years old and live in Antioch, California, a suburban community located about 45 miles east of San Francisco.
Arrest warrants were served early Wednesday morning in Antioch and all three were taken into custody without incident, according to a release from SFPD. While executing a search warrant, police seized two weapons and evidence relating to the robbery.
Court dates and bail have not yet been set. It is unclear if any of the three men retained attorneys.
Police expect the men to be charged with burglary robbery, elder abuse, and assault. A case has not yet been presented to the District Attorney’s office, according to spokeswoman Rachel Marshall.
CNN’s Eric Levenson, Stephanie Becker, Dan Simon and Jadyn Sham contributed to this report.