A Texas man pleaded guilty after he attacked a family with knives at a warehouse store because he believed they were "responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic."
The Justice Department said on Wednesday that 21-year-old Jose Gomez III, of Midland, pleaded guilty to three counts of committing a hate crime. According to documents filed with the plea, Gomez followed the family into a Sam’s Club Warehouse in Midland where he attacked the father and a six-year-old child with a knife.
"Gomez followed the Asian family in the store for several minutes because he perceived them to be a 'threat' as they were 'from the country who started spreading that disease around," said the DOJ release. "Gomez then momentarily left the family to find a serrated steak knife in the store."
Gomez returned to punch the father in the face with the blade in his hands, cutting his face. He then left the scene to return with an eight-inch knife.
"When Gomez returned, he abruptly went after B.C.’s two young children – then aged 6 and 2 years old – who were seated in the front basket of the shopping cart," said the Department of Justice. "Gomez slashed open the face of R.C., the then-six-year-old child. The blade entered millimeters from R.C.’s right eye, split his right ear, and wrapped around to the back of his skull."
Gomez then stabbed a Sam’s Club employee who intervened, and while being held down he yelled “Get out of America!” to the family, according to the DOJ.
"Gomez further admitted he had attempted to kill the 6-year-old child," said the DOJ release.
Racially motivated hate crimes have been rising in the Asian American community, said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke.
"No one should be afraid to go shopping or feel like they could be targeted by an act of violence based on their race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, country of national origin, or immigration status,” said special agent in charge, Jeffrey Downey, of the FBI El Paso Field Office. “Acts of hate and racism have no place in our community and will not be tolerated. The FBI encourages people who have been victims or witnessed a hate crime to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.”