Hate crime: Man sentenced for attacking Asian family he blamed for pandemic

Authorities say Jose Gomez III, 21, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty...
Authorities say Jose Gomez III, 21, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to attacking an Asian family.(Midland County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Aug. 6, 2022 at 1:34 PM EDT
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MIDLAND, Texas (Gray News) - A Texas man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for assaulting an Asian family that authorities said he blamed for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Justice Department announced that Jose Gomez III, 21, of Midland, Texas, was sentenced on hate crime charges for attacking an Asian family he believed was Chinese and therefore responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gomez had previously pleaded guilty to three counts of committing a hate crime.

Officials said according to the facts admitted in the plea, on March 14, 2020, Gomez entered a Sam’s Club Warehouse in Midland behind an Asian family with young children. Gomez had never seen them before and believed they were Chinese.

According to authorities, Gomez followed them in the store for several minutes because he perceived them to be a “threat” as they were “from the country who started spreading that disease around.” Gomez then momentarily left the family to find a serrated steak knife in the store.

The Justice Department reported Gomez bent the blade of the knife and returned to the family and punched the father in the face, cutting him. Gomez then left to retrieve another knife from the store. When Gomez returned, he abruptly turned towards the family’s two young children – then aged 6 and 2 years old – who were seated in the front basket of the shopping cart. Gomez slashed the 6-year-old child’s face and right ear.

Officials said Gomez also stabbed a Sam’s Club employee who intervened to stop him from further assaulting the Asian family. While being held down on the ground, Gomez yelled at the family to “Get out of America!”

The Justice Department reported that Gomez admitted he believed the family was Chinese and that he blamed them for the COVID-19 pandemic. Gomez further admitted he had attempted to kill the 6-year-old child. The 21-year-old also admitted he had attacked the store employee because he wanted to kill the 6-year-old child and the worker was preventing him from doing so.

“Pandemic-driven and racially-motivated acts of violence are deplorable crimes, and the Justice Department stands ready to use our hate crimes laws to hold perpetrators accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

The department said the Midland Police Department and the FBI helped with the investigation of the case.

“Hate-motivated violence will simply not be tolerated in our society and every person deserves to feel safe from such vicious harm,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff for the Western District of Texas.

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