Police: California man accused of attacking Asian woman he believed was white

Police: California man accused of attacking Asian woman he
believed was white 1

IRVINE, CA — Attacks on Asian-American’s have become increasingly more common as Law Enforcement Today has continued to report. 

One Asian-American man was fed up with the “anti-Asian” rhetoric that the media keeps portraying in this country, and set out to take revenge on a white person. The only problem is, the “white” woman the man thought he was attacking, is actually Asian herself. 

37-year-old Michael Sangbong Rhee of Lake Forest is accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting an Asian woman he believed was white, authorities said. The attack was an apparent retaliation for the rise in hate crimes against Asians, police said.

Irvine, Calif. (April 9, 2021) – Last night, Irvine Police arrested 37-year-old Michael Sangbong Rhee for kidnapping…

Posted by Irvine Police Department on Friday, April 9, 2021

According to the Irvine Police Department, around 1:30 p.m. an Asian woman was sitting in her car near her apartment on Thursday, April 8th, in the area of Harvard Avenue and Coronado Street. The woman looked up and saw Rhee standing at her driver’s side door pointing a handgun at her, according to reports.

KCBS reported that according to a criminal complaint, Rhee allegedly told the woman that if she wanted to live, she would have to get into the back of her vehicle.

The woman allegedly offered Rhee her wallet and cash, but police said the man replied he would “do that later,” before pushing her into the back seat, KTLA reported.

The Irvine Police Department said in its Facebook post:

“The victim believed she was going to be sexually assaulted or killed and began to look for an opportunity to escape,”

The post went on to say:

“As she struggled with Rhee, he committed a sexual battery against her. The victim yelled to a maintenance worker nearby that Rhee had a gun. Rhee then exited the vehicle, ran through the apartment community, and got into his vehicle.”

Luckily, nearby surveillance cameras captured Rhee’s license plate as he was leaving the complex.

Sgt. Karie Davies told the Register that Irvine officers went to Rhee’s residence, and were able to successfully detain him. 

According to Davies, detectives obtained a search warrant and recovered several items from Rhee’s home. Among the items was a BB gun similar to the weapon described by the woman. Additionally, detectives found a vehicle that linked him to the alleged assault.

Rhee was arrested and charged with kidnapping with intent to commit a sexual assault. He is being held at Orange County Jail on $1 million bail. 

The woman Rhee is accused of assaulting was of Asian descent, but detectives said they believe he targeted her because he thought she was white “based on the totality of the investigation and statements made by Rhee,” KTLA reported.

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Viral video of attack on Asian-American couple leads to arrest of 15-year-old suspect

April 6, 2021

TACOMA, WA – Tacoma police arrested a teen suspected of assaulting an elderly Korean-American couple in a hate crime that occurred nearly five months ago. The assault was captured on video and widely circulated on social media.

The video from November 19 shows an older couple walking through a neighborhood when two teenage boys rushed up to them. A teen appears to try to kick the elderly man but falls to the ground.

As the elderly man tries to help the teen stand, the teen begins punching the male repeatedly as the helpless woman holds her husband’s arm and shouts at the attacker.

Another teen in the video stood close by watching the assault, while a third teen videotaped the attack. Police believe a fourth teen was also involved.

Police said they did not connect the video to the attack until the elderly couple’s daughter recognized their relatives in the footage. They said they only learned of the video on March 30.

Tacoma Police Public Information Officer Wendy Haddow said the attack appeared random and that the victims did not know the attackers saying, “They had never seen them before, never dealt with them before.”

Police said the 15-year-old teen arrested was the one who threw the punches during the assault. The suspect was not identified by authorities because he is a juvenile. Police said the suspect would be charged with second-degree assault.

The video was used by investigators to identify the teen, and he was taken into custody on Friday as he arrived at a detention review hearing for an unrelated robbery case.

The victims have not been identified by authorities.

The victims gave an interview to local media on March 31, in which the 56-year-old man said he did not know why he was attacked. “I just don’t understand why I was attacked,” he said.

When asked by a reporter if he believed he was targeted because he was Asian-American, the man said:

“I have to think so. I’m Asian. I’m older, and I’m not that big. I still don’t understand. This (has) changed my life.”

The man said the attack happened without warning:

“I thought they were messing around with each other and accidentally bumped into me. So, I asked, ‘You OK? (sic) You OK?

“A fist came flying in (and) hit me right here, and I started bleeding.”

Anti-Asian attacks have been steadily increasing dramatically across the country since the pandemic began. In New York City, for example, 28 arrests were made for hate crimes targeting Asians in 2020, up from three in 2019 and two in 2018, according to the New York Police Department.

According to data from Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit that tracks incidents of discrimination, more than 3,000 anti-Asian attacks occurred between March 19, 2020 and February 28, 2021.  The group said they believe the number is only a fraction of the true number of crimes.

In Tacoma, PIO Haddow said the decision on whether to prosecute the case as a hate crime will be made by the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office.

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