An elderly California man has died from injuries suffered when he was punched in the face by a robbery suspect who prosecutors claim has a history of targeting older Asians.
Seventy-five-year-old Oakland resident Pak Ho suffered a traumatic brain injury and brain damage after being knocked to the sidewalk from a single punch in the Tuesday attack. He died Thursday, and his alleged attacker, Teaunte Bailey, 26, now faces murder charges, police said.
“I’m at a loss for words,” said Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong in a statement.
“Through our investigation, OPD has learned that the suspect has a history of victimizing elderly Asian people,” the chief stated.
Bailey led police on a chase after cops identified the suspect’s getaway car with surveillance video, according to KPIX 5.
He was eventually apprehended and found with the items he had robbed from Ho, the station said. The career criminal’s court-ordered GPS ankle monitor also reportedly placed him at the scene of the crime.
In addition to the upgraded special circumstances murder charge, prosecutors charged Bailey with a February robbery and assault against a 72-year-old at a nursing home, KPIX reported.
Baily had been released to home supervision in connection with another crime, and has been convicted of multiple felonies, the report stated.
Last April, he was booked for robbery, conspiracy, possession of stolen property, parole violation, child endangerment and multiple counts of destroying evidence after leading San Francisco police on a post-robbery chase with an infant in the car, according to the CBS affiliate.
“Our elders should be protected not the victim of a deadly assault. 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,” Chief Armstrong said.
Oakland leaders said they are investigating whether the attack was a hate crime, and connected to a rash of crimes against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our police will investigate thoroughly to determine whether this was racially motivated or a crime of opportunity,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement Thursday.
There were more than 2,800 incidents of anti-Asian hate throughout the country last year, with 126 of them targeting elderly members of the community, according to data released last month by Stop AAPI Hate national coalition.
President Biden condemned the hateful pattern Thursday in his first prime time address.
“It is wrong, it is un-American and it must stop,” Biden said as he denounced the “vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans, who’ve been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated.”