Elderly Asian woman attacked in San Francisco sends alleged assailant to hospital

SAN FRANCISCO — The latest victim in a wave of attacks on residents of Asian descent in California’s Bay Area fought back, sending her alleged attacker to the hospital.

Xiao Zhen Xie, 76, told KPIX that she was waiting to cross the street at a traffic light Wednesday morning when a man unknown to her punched her in her eye, so she instinctively grabbed a nearby stick and defended herself.

“Very traumatized, very scared, and this eye is still bleeding,” Dong-Mei Li, told the TV station, translating her mother’s account. “The right eye still cannot see anything and still bleeding and we have something to absorb the bleeding.”

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According to police, an 83-year-old Asian man was attacked before Xie, and an unidentified 39-year-old man is being investigated for both attacks, while working to determine if racial bias was a factor, KPIX reported.

Although Xie, who spoke to the TV station surrounded by family from her San Francisco retirement home, required medical attention on the scene, her attacker was the one who wound up handcuffed to a stretcher following the unprovoked attack.

“She found the stick around the area and fought back,” Li told KPIX.

Meanwhile, witnesses told the TV station that they saw the woman pummeling her alleged attacker, and a video taken at the scene shows the woman, believed to be Xie, scolding him in Chinese.

“You bum, why did you hit me?” she asks, before turning to the gathered crowd and stating in Chinese, “This bum, he hit me.”

San Francisco police are investigating the aggravated assault against Xie, who has lived in the city for 26 years, and announced Wednesday that they are “stepping up” patrols in the area’s predominantly Asian neighborhoods following the recent surge in attacks against the community.

“We need to understand, not only what is going on, but why these attacks occur because in some cases they didn’t include any robbery or theft,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed told the TV station.

According to CNN, multiple unprovoked attacks against elderly Asian Americans in the Bay Area this year led, in part, to the creation of a special response unit focused on crimes against the vulnerable population, and the increased police presence is being coordinated with Asian American and Pacific Islander community organizations.

The reported attacks include the following:

• A 19-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and elder abuse in the death of Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old from Thailand who died after he was attacked while taking his morning walk on Jan. 28.

• A 28-year-old man has been charged with three counts of felony assault after being accused of violently shoving three people in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood, injuring a 91-year-old man, 60-year-old man and 55-year-old woman.

• Calvin Berschell, Jason Orozco and Nolowde Beshears, all 19, were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of attacking and robbing a 67-year-old man Feb. 23 in a laundromat near the Nob Hill and Chinatown neighborhoods.

“No one should have to live in fear that their race or ethnicity could make them a victim,” Breed told CNN.