A Texas man who was arrested for allegedly trying to kill an Asian-American family in a fit of COVID-19-related hysteria may be facing federal hate crime charges, according to the FBI. The man, 19-year-old Jose Gomez, stabbed the family at the Sam’s Club in Midland, because he said they were spreading the coronavirus.
The Hill reports that Gomez may now be facing federal hate crime charges after being taken into custody by an off-duty Border Patrol officer for the March 14 attack. He was initially charged with three counts of attempted capital murder and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. An FBI spokesperson confirmed that the case is being handled as a possible hate crime.
As the COVID-19 pandemic surges and claims more and more American lives each day, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are forecasting a corresponding surge in anti-Asian hate crimes—the virus was believed to have started in Wuhan, China, and many are taking this out on the Asian-American community.
“The FBI assesses hate crime incidents against Asian-Americans likely will surge across the United States, due to the spread of coronavirus disease … endangering Asian-American communities,” the Bureau states in a recent report. “The FBI makes this assessment based on the assumption that a portion of the U.S. public will associate COVID-19 with China and Asian-American populations.”
These incendiary cultural fires may have been further stoked by President Trump’s initial referral to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus.” Despite his repeated claims that the phrase is not racist, many are afraid that such rhetoric will directly correlate to a spike in hate crimes against Chinese and other Asian-American populations. The FBI is expected to make an official decision on the hate crime charges in the coming weeks. Gomez is being held without bond.
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