SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- An elderly Filipino woman was the victim of an unprovoked attack on a San Diego trolley last Monday, multiple sources told ABC 10News.
Sources said a man punched her for seemingly no reason at all. Witnesses helped her report it to police. She was treated at a local hospital.
San Diego Police said Tuesday that a suspect was arrested last week for assault with a deadly weapon with an elder abuse enhancement. Police say the incident is not considered a hate crime and was an isolated event.
35-year-old James Winslow is currently in custody, police confirmed. He is being held on $100,000 bail.
Lt. Matthew Botkin gave credit to the community for their help with the case. “They saw what happened, intervened, helped the victim call SDPD, waited with her until we arrived and continued their assistance by being helpful with the case. It was really a best case scenario response for our department and the community,” Botkin said.
“My first reaction is angry and then I was just sad for her,” said JoAnn Fields, a community advocate and director of the Filipino Resource Center.
Community advocate JoAnn Fields said she has noticed an increase in incidents since the start of the pandemic. “The previous president calling the coronavirus the Chinese virus… that just amplified, I believe, hate toward our community,” Fields said.
Attacks on elderly Asian Americans have been caught on video in recent weeks. 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee, a native of Thailand, was on a morning walk in the San Francisco area when he was tackled. His head slammed the pavement. Ratanapakdee later died.
“To see this trend, awful trend, happening throughout the United States should put us on alert," Fields said.
The group Stop AAPI Hate started tracking anti-Asian hate nationwide beginning in mid-March. It recorded more than 2,800 accounts by the end of 2020.
In San Diego County, the District Attorney’s office has three anti-Asian hate crime cases currently open. There were none in 2018 and 2019.
“It makes me very angry seeing how ignorant people are,” said Kent, a former Uber driver. He did not want to use his last name.
While picking up passengers in the Convoy area March of last year, he said the passengers immediately started poking fun of the coronavirus and his Hong Kong background. Kent remained mostly quiet during the ride when the passengers said he could let them out if he wanted. Kent said the passengers then gave him a one-star rating.
He no longer is a ride-share driver. “I stopped because of the pandemic and also I’m afraid something like this would happen again,” Kent said. “That incident was only verbal. What if I get attacked next time?”