Stabbing attack on Asian family deemed coronavirus hate crime, FBI says

Jose L. Gomez III was arrested and charged with three counts of attempted capital murder and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on March 14 in Midland, Texas. Midland County Jail

An Asian-American family, including a two-year-old girl, was attacked at knifepoint in Texas in what the FBI has allegedly called a coronavirus-related hate crime.

The incident occurred on the night of March 14 at a Sam’s Club grocery store, records show.

An arrest affidavit obtained by the Midland Reporter-Telegram (MRT) says a suspect entered the store and attempted to kill the family. Zack Owen, a store employee, intervened and was reportedly stabbed in the leg.

Owen apparently knocked the knife away from the suspect and maintained control of the suspect until help arrived, the affidavit continues, MRT says.

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The report goes on to say that the suspect eventually admitted to attempting to murder the family while being questioned by a Midland police officer.

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Per a previous MRT report, the incident happened at around 7:30 p.m. when off-duty Border Patrol Agent Bernie Ramirez detained the suspect.

The case was turned over to the FBI, Mayor Patrick Payton told the local publication.

An FBI document obtained by ABC cites a March 14 incident in which “three Asian-American family members, including a 2-year-old and 6-year-old, were stabbed.”

It continues: “The suspect indicated that he stabbed the family because he thought the family was Chinese, and infecting people with the coronavirus.”

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FBI spokesperson Lauren Hagee declined to provide ABC comment on the document.

Per court documents, Jose L. Gomez III, 19, was charged with three counts of attempted capital murder that night. Each count came with a US$300,000 bond.

One count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, documents read, has a bond of $100,000.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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