Man who attacked Asian family inside Sam’s Club because he blamed them for COVID has been sentenced to 25 years in prison | Today Headlines

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A man in Texas was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday after pleading guilty to attacking an Asian family he accused of COVID at the start of the pandemic.

Jose Gomez, 21, violently attacked an Asian family of three at a Sam’s Club in Midland, Texas on March 14, 2020, perceiving them as a “threat” because he assumed they were Chinese, “du country that started spreading this disease around,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of committing a hate crime in February.

Gomez admitted in his plea that he followed the father and his children, ages 6 and 2, into the store. He then grabbed a serrated steak knife on sale, bending the blade so the sharp part was facing out, and punched the father in the face.

Gomez then obtained an eight-inch knife from the store and slashed the 6-year-old’s face. The blade entered near his right eye, split his right ear and severed the back of his skull, prosecutors said.

Gomez said in his plea that he wanted to kill the 6-year-old boy and that he attacked a white store clerk who was preventing him from doing so.

As he was held down by the employee, Gomez yelled at the family to “get out of America.”

The incident was one of many racist and unprovoked attacks on Asians in recent years. Some of the victims were presumed by their attackers to be of Chinese descent and accused of causing the COVID pandemic; at the time, then-President Donald Trump frequently referred to the coronavirus as a “Chinese virus”, stoking racist and xenophobic fears.

“Acts of pandemic-induced and racially-motivated violence are deplorable crimes, and the Department of Justice stands ready to use our hate crime laws to hold perpetrators accountable,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said. for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in the release announcing Gomez’s sentence. “Hate crimes targeting Asian Americans have increased during the pandemic and must be addressed. All people deserve to feel safe in their community, regardless of race, color or national origin.”

Official statistics on hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are not always accurate; one report found that AAPI people were less comfortable reporting such incidents to authorities than other races. However, Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that tracks reports of incidents of hate and discrimination against AAPI people, found that between March 2020 and December 2021 – the most recent data available – there were more than 10 000 reported hate incidents against AAPI people.

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