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A Texas man has pleaded guilty to hate crime charges for attacking an Asian family with a knife in Sam’s Club in 2020, while blaming them for the coronavirus outbreak.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Wednesday in a press release that Jose Gomez III, 21, of Midland, “pleaded guilty to three counts of committing a hate crime for attacking an Asian family he believed was responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic because he believed them to be Chinese.”
Gomez had followed the family, which included young children, around a Sam’s Club Warehouse in Midland, on March 14, 2020.
“Gomez followed the Asian family in the store for several minutes because he perceived them to be a ‘threat’ as they were ‘from the country who started spreading that disease around,’” the press release states.
Gomez only stopped following the family around the store “momentarily” so he could pick up a “serrated steak knife in the store.”
“Gomez bent the blade so that when he held the handle in his fist, the blade rested against his knuckles, sharp-edge facing outward,” the press release states. Then he punched the father in the face before cutting him.
Gomez then found a different knife, with an eight-inch blade, and used it to attack the two young children – then aged 6 and 2 years old – who were seated in the front basket of a shopping cart.
“Gomez slashed open the face of R.C., the then-six-year-old child. The blade entered millimeters from R.C.’s right eye, split his right ear, and wrapped around to the back of his skull,” the press release states. “Gomez also stabbed a white Sam’s Club employee who intervened to stop Gomez from further assaulting the Asian family.”
As that employee held Gomez down on the ground of the store, Gomez yelled at the Asian family, “Get out of America!” according to the release.
Following the attack, Gomez admitted he blamed the family for the COVID-19 pandemic and that he wanted to kill the 6-year-old child.
“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 for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division states. “Racially motivated hate crimes targeting the Asian American community are on the rise and have no place in our society today. All people deserve to feel safe and secure living in their communities, regardless of race, color or national origin.”
Gomez faces life in prison for the racist attack.
A FBI spokesperson said in an email to Oxygen.com in 2020 that “during the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to remind everyone that any violent criminal act against any person because of their race, ethnicity or national origin is a hate crime. This includes violence toward Asian Americans or individuals from East Asian countries.”
As Oxygen.com reported last year, a study conducted by Stop AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Hate showed that Asian-Americans were targeted in around 3,800 hate incidents from 2020 to 2021. It marked a more than 25% increase over the previous year.
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