MIDLAND, Texas — A Texas man was sentenced to 25 years in prison on hate crime charges for attacking an Asian family he believed was Chinese and therefore responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jose Gomez III, 21, of Midland, Texas, pleaded guilty to three counts of committing a hate crime in February following his attack on Bawi Cung and his son at a Midland Sam’s Club.
According to The Associated Press, Gomez admitted following the family into the store on March 14, 2020. Gomez took a knife from a store display and slashed Bawi Cung, his 6-year-old son and Sam’s Club employee Zach Owen, who tried to intervene.
He said he blamed China for the COVID-19 pandemic and mistook the family for Chinese. He said he perceived the family as a “threat” as they were “from the country who started spreading that disease around.” Bawi Cung is from Myanmar.
“Pandemic-driven and racially-motivated acts of violence are deplorable crimes, and the Justice Department stands ready to use our hate crimes laws to hold perpetrators accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
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