SPD investigating bias crime against Asian couple

SEATTLE -- Two pedestrians were attacked in downtown Seattle on May 16, and while the attack came out of nowhere, the victims believe they were targeted for their Asian descent during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The couple told police the suspect said “It’s all your fault” during the violent exchanged on Third Avenue and Stewart Street.

Surveillance video in the area captured it all.

“He viciously shoved the male and struck him in the face, knocking his mask and gloves off his face,” said Detective Elizabeth Wareing. “He came and kind of menaced him, then he came back, pulled his own mask down and spat in the face of the victim.”

Detective Wareing is the biased crimes coordinator for the Seattle Police Department. Wareing said the suspect will be charged with a hate crime offense and felony assault.

“We are having crimes where individuals are being targeted and blamed for something, really they have nothing to do with at all,” said Wareing.

Jamie Lee is tracking hate crimes against Asian American Pacific Islanders. She’s the director of community initiatives for the Seattle Chinatown-ID Preservation Development Authority (SCIDpda).

“People want somebody to blame for this and it’s really easy to blame a racial group for something,” said Lee.

SCIDpda received a grant from King County to track cases targeting Asians, raising awareness on the issue and providing support to those who are impacted.

“Like they might think they’re the only ones going through this, in addition to holding perpetrators accountable, but it’s also letting victims know they have other people they can talk to,” said Lee, who is opening her door to anyone in the community who needs a safe space to talk.

Lee said incidents involving people who are Asian are underreported. She hopes that with some case building, hate and bias crimes will be taken more seriously with harsher consequences.

Detective Wareing said anyone who is a victim or sees an incident like this playing out, call 911 right away. The sooner officers can arrive on scene, the better chance they may have of catching suspects.

If you recognize the man in the video, reach out to the Seattle Police Department’s Bias Crimes Unit at (206) 233-5000.