The Royal Thai Consulate-General in Los Angeles has warned Thai people in California to be on their guard following the horrifying killing of an 84-year-old man in the Anza Vista neighbourhood of San Francisco.
The Thai man, named by a local TV station as Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, was among three elderly Asian people to be subjected to brutal attacks, according to Tanee Sangrat, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The attack took place at 8.30 am last Thursday on a pavement in front of his home in the pleasant central city district.
Security footage, circulated widely on the internet, shows a man running towards Vicha and throwing him violently to the ground before turning around and fleeing, according to KTVU Fox 2 News.
Vicha died in hospital in the early hours of Saturday and soon after, police reportedly charged a 19-year-old man, Antoine Watson, with murder and 20-year-old female friend, Maylasia Goo, with being an accessory to the killing.
The broad daylight attack has caused alarm among members of the Asian-American community in the Bay Area.
“There’s nothing non-intentional about it,” said Vicha’s son-in-law, Eric Lawson. He and his wife Kim, Vicha’s daughter, believed the attacker targeted him because he was an elderly Asian.
Watson was arrested around 8.45 pm Saturday at his Daly City home and booked on suspicion of murder, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon.
A GoFundMe for Ratanapadkdee states that the senior citizen, who was nearly blind, had been out enjoying his morning walk when the attack occurred. He was described as being ‘beloved by his family.’
The assault is the latest in a long string of attacks to Asian and Asian American people in the U.S. as racist sentiments towards the community have grown because of COVID-19.
Chesa Boudin, district attorney for San Francisco, released a statement offering his condolences to Ratanapadkdee’s family as well as the entire Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community.
“I send my deepest condolences to the Ratanapadkdee family for their loss,” Boudin said in a statement. “This was a brutal, random, unprovoked attack.”
He continued: “My heart is also with the entire AAPI community for the pain they’re experiencing as a result of this tragedy and too many others over the past year. We will hold the person who committed this senseless act of violence accountable.”