Surveillance video caught an attack on a Japanese American woman and her boyfriend who were allegedly hit with a “hard object” in Seattle’s Chinatown on Feb. 25, the Tacoma News Tribune reports.
Seattle Police Department on Thursday arrested 41-year-old Sean Holdip, who is suspected to have attacked Noriko Nasu and her boyfriend Michael Poffenbarger while they were walking, per the News Tribune.
Nasu, who is a Japanese teacher at Inglemoor High School, says she was hit in the face with “what felt like a rock in a sock,” and she now has trouble speaking after being “knocked out,” NextShark reports. KOMO-TV shared surveillance footage of the incident.
Poffenbarger, who is white, was also hit in the head during the attack and received eight stitches as a result, per NextShark. Poffenbarger said he believes the crime was deliberate.
“I truly believe he was trying to kill us,” he said, according to KOMO-TV. “He hit her so hard (and) he hit me really really hard. I was amazed at how hard he hit my head and it didn’t knock me out.”
Nasu, who did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment, told KOMO-TV she was “dizzy” from her concussion and said the swelling was going down on Thursday.
In a report, the Seattle Police Department said that it is investigating the attack to determine if it is “racially-motivated.”
“The Seattle Police Department has seen a rise in the number of Anti-Asian hate crime reports in our city over the last year,” the department said. “In 2020, police received 14 reports of Anti-Asian hate crimes, up from 9 the previous year and 6 in 2018.”
Northshore Superintendent Michelle Reid, who did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment, said it is “incumbent on all of us to say something” about incidents of hate, KIRO-TV reported.
“In this case, it’s gotten very close to home,” Reid said. “It’s one of our staff.”
Poffenbarger said he is “very very happy” that police officers made an arrest, according to KOMO-TV. “I won’t feel like it’s someone I pass or around the corner everywhere I go,” he said. “I hope his arrest will help that stress fade.”
King County Deputy Prosecutor Leandra Craft said anti-Asian hate crimes have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic following former President Donald Trump’s comments on the coronavirus being a “China virus,” per the News Tribune.
“Based on the negative thoughts that Asian Americans are more likely the reason, the inaccurate thoughts that Asian Americans are the reason why COVID is spreading,” Craft said.
A volunteer with the Chinatown-International District Community Watch group, Tanya Woo, told KOMO-TV that “we still have a lot of work to do.”
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