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API community concerned following El Cajon trolley attack

Posted at 12:48 PM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 15:48:39-05

EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) — Members of the API community are calling for the county to step in after an elderly man was stabbed multiple times outside of a trolley station in El Cajon.

Community members told ABC 10News there has been an uptick in crimes against the API community and are calling for the county and District Attorney's Office to look into this case further.

Last week, 71-year-old Jose Serra was attacked after he got off of the trolley on his way to work. He crossed the street at Marshall and Petree, where moments later he was attacked.

"When he's traveling from here to El Cajon from downtown, I think that he thinks the trolley is not the best or safest place," said Todd Jones, a friend of Serra's. He added that Serra is in good spirits.

RELATED: Police release image of suspect accused of stabbing elderly man at El Cajon trolley stop

Police said this week that officers are searching for 24-year-old Israel Ezekiel Valdivia. Officials said Valdivia is suspected of stabbing Serra multiple times in the unprovoked attack.

Police added that Valdivia has an extensive criminal history, including elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to a year in jail in January, but released seven months early.

"He's a guy that never causes anybody any grief," Jones said of his friend.

While police have not classified the attack as a hate crime, the local API community is calling for officials to get involved. They told ABC 10News they are concerned that they didn't hear about the attack until days later.

RELATED: 'Miraculous' survival after brutal attack outside El Cajon trolley stop

Community advocates are calling on the San Diego County Human Relations Commission to review any uptick in hate crimes. They also want the DA's Office to conduct a joint investigation with the FBI on whether this incident was indeed a hate crime.

"Why did it take almost a week to get the word out that there is a dangerous man on the loose that had done this heinous crime," asked Joann Fields, director of the Filipino-American Resource Center.

"Law enforcement need to have stronger, keep them in longer and make them pay for what they did and to really review these guys before they come out," Jones added.

"We have to hold people accountable. If we are going to stop the cycle of violence then we need not just see something but to say something," Field said.

El Cajon Police are asking that anyone who has information on Valdivia's whereabouts call 911 or the department at 619-579-3311. He is considered armed and dangerous.

A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help Serra with expenses as he recovers from his injuries.