SAN FRANCISCO (KRON/AP) – San Francisco police have arrested a suspect who allegedly punched two elderly Asian people in unprovoked attacks Thursday.
Xiao Zhen Zie, 76, was walking with an 83-year-old man and were waiting to cross the street in downtown San Francisco when 39-year-old Steven Jenkins allegedly approached Zie’s companion, who is also Asian, and assaulted him.
Jenkins then punched her without warning and for no reason, according to authorities.
The septuagenarian from China said she instinctively responded by hitting the man with a stick. Zie and her companion were taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
A nearby security guard was able to detain Jenkins until officers arrived.
He was booked on two charges of assault and two charges of elder abuse.
John Chen, Zei’s grandson, told KPIX that she is so shaken from the assault that she refuses to leave the house.
“Very traumatized, very scared and this eye is still bleeding,” Zie’s daughter, Dong-Mei Li, told KPIX of her mother’s injuries. “The right eye still cannot see anything.”
Right now investigators say they are working to determine if racial bias was a motivating factor in this incident.
Several recent attacks on elderly Asians in the Bay Area have raised new fears for members of the Asian American community. The harassment and violence has escalated since the coronavirus started spreading last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.