Texan man pleads guilty to hate crime attack on Asian family

MIDLAND, Texas (AP) — A West Texas man pleaded guilty Wednesday to hate crime charges stemming from his March 2020 stabbing attack on an Asian family at a warehouse, officials said.

Jose Gomez III, 21, of Midland, Texas, pleaded guilty to three counts of hate crimes for his attack on Bawi Cung and his son at a Midland Sam’s Club, according to a Justice Department statement. He could be sentenced to life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

In court papers, Gomez admitted to following the family into the store, taking a knife from a store display and slashing Cung, her 6-year-old son and a store employee who tried to intervene. Gomez said he blamed China for the COVID-19 pandemic and mistook the Burmese family for Chinese. He said he perceived the family as a “threat” as they were from “the country that started spreading this disease”.

Cung was lacerated in the face, while his son was cut millimeters from his right eye to the back of his head, splitting his right ear. Sam’s Club employee Zach Owen was stabbed in the leg and lacerated in the right palm.

While being held down, Gomez yelled at the Asian family, “Get out of America!”

In an interview last year, Cung told The Associated Press that he couldn’t walk through any store after the attack without constantly looking in all directions. Her son, who can no longer raise an eyebrow, is afraid to sleep alone. He said he wasn’t sure what would have happened if Owen hadn’t intervened.

“Maybe I could kill him. Maybe he could kill my whole family. I don’t know,” Cung said. “God protected my family. God sent Zach to protect my family at the right time.

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