There has been an uptick in targeted attacks against members of the Asian American community over the past year, including particularly egregious physical assaults against the elderly that, at times, have proven fatal.
Such was the case in Oakland, California last week, when 75-year-old Pak Ho was knocked to the ground with a punch during a robbery and ultimately died days later due to the traumatic brain injury he suffered as a result, Fox News reported.
The alleged assailant, 26-year-old Teaunte Bailey, can now add a murder charge and other felony counts to his extensive rap sheet as a career criminal and convicted felon.
“Special circumstances” murder charge
Local CBS affiliate KPIX reported that Ho was walking in a neighborhood Tuesday morning when he was approached and allegedly robbed by Bailey, who punched and knocked the victim to the ground. The victim’s head reportedly slammed on the concrete in the process of the violent crime.
Bailey, identified by surveillance video footage, initially fled the scene but was later discovered by police, only to lead them on a brief pursuit before he was finally apprehended. Law enforcement reportedly confirmed his involvement in the attack by way of his possession of items stolen from Ho, as well as a GPS ankle monitor he was wearing as a result of a prior criminal conviction.
The 26-year-old is now facing a “special circumstances” murder charge, as well as several other felony charges stemming from other crimes he is suspected of committing in recent weeks.
KPIX noted that, despite an extensive criminal record and pending charges in other alleged crimes, Bailey was released to home supervision by a San Francisco court in February.
Expressions of grief and outrage
In a statement issued Thursday by the Oakland Police Department (OPD) following Ho’s death from the injuries sustained in the attack, Chief LeRonne Armstrong said he was at a “loss for words.”
“Our elders should be protected, not the victim of a deadly assault,” the OPD chief added. “I am thankful that our officers were able to quickly respond and arrest Mr. Bailey. The Oakland Police Department will relentlessly pursue those that violate the most vulnerable members in our community.”
The New York Post reported that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (D) had likewise called the deadly assault “reprehensible” and condemned the wider trend of targeted attacks against members of the Asian American community, especially seniors.
“Our police will investigate thoroughly to determine whether this was racially motivated or a crime of opportunity,” the mayor said. “Every act of violence traumatizes our community, and I pray for healing to the victim and his family.”
We can only hope that the grief and outrage expressed by the police chief and mayor are shared by the local prosecutors and judges who, more often than not, have taken a decidedly soft stance against crime and career criminals, allowing them back out onto the streets to commit more crimes and create more victims instead of being held fully accountable for their prior violations.