“An Asian family was shopping when the defendant brutally attacked them because of their race and because he blamed them for the Covid-19 pandemic,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “Racially motivated hate crimes targeting the Asian American community are on the rise and have no place in our society today. "
The then-19-year-old Sam’s Club employee allegedly stabbed three Asian American family members, including a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old, Daily Kos reported. Gomez “indicated that he stabbed the family because he thought the family was Chinese, and infecting people with the coronavirus,” the FBI said in a hate crimes report following the incident.
Gomez slashed open the 6-year-old child's face and came “millimeters from [the boy’s] right eye, split his right ear, and wrapped around to the back of his skull,” prosecutors said. A colleague of Gomez’s who attempted to stop the violence suffered several cuts as well. Prosecutors said that throughout the incident Gomez yelled, "Get out of America!"
When initially arrested, Gomez also told authorities he had never seen the family before but perceived them as a “threat” because they supposedly “came from the country who started spreading the disease around.” He admitted to trying to kill the father and the 6-year-old in an effort to “stop the threat.”
In an interview last year, the father of the family, Bawi Cung, told the Associated Press he could not walk through any store after the attack without constantly looking in all directions. He added that his son, who now can’t move one eyebrow, is afraid to sleep alone.
According to the Justice Department, Gomez pleaded guilty to three counts of committing a hate crime and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a total of $750,000 in fines.
Gomez’s plea follows an increase in hate crimes targeting the AAPI community across the country.
In California alone, an increase of 567% has been seen in hate crimes reported between 2020 to 2021. Nationally, the FBI reported a 73% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020 over the previous year.
Following the news of his hate crime charges, reports indicated that a woman who was attacked last year with a rock in New York died Monday. A GoFundMe page dedicated to her confirmed the reports.
According to CNN, 61-year-old GuiYing Ma was sweeping the sidewalk of an empty property in Jackson Heights when a man allegedly struck her in the head repeatedly with a large rock. Police said both her face and head were injured. A day later, a 33-year-old man was arrested in connection with the attack. He faced three felony charges, including a charge of assault with intent to disfigure and dismember and a charge of assault with intent to seriously injure someone with a weapon.
After the attack, Ma went into a coma. When she woke up 10 months later, she could not speak.
The AAPI community needs our support now more than ever, whether it be checking in on our family and friends, spreading awareness of COVID-19 misconceptions, or contacting members of Congress to do more against anti-Asian hate. Check out this guide on resources and ways to support the AAPI community and our Asian friends. Hate is the real virus, and we must end it.
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