Texas man sentenced to 25 years in prison for assaulting Asian family he blamed for pandemic

Jose Gomez III, 21, pleaded guilty to three charges in February for committing hate crimes. CNN has reached out to its attorney for comment.

In March 2020, Gomez saw a Burmese family with three young children enter a Sam’s Club in Midland, Texas, and, assuming they were Chinese, she followed them into the store, federal prosecutors said.

Gomez seized kitchen knives sold in the store and attacked the family, stabbing the father and a child who was then 6 years old, according to the charges.

Prosecutors said Thursday that the blade of the knife penetrated millimeters from the child’s right eye, slitting his ear and slashing the back of the child’s head.

A store employee who intervened was also stabbed in the leg, according to prosecutors. As the suspect was held to the ground, prosecutors said, he yelled at the Asian family — “Get out of America!”

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Gomez later admitted to authorities that he attacked the family, targeting the father and “everyone I think came from the country that started spreading the disease.”

Gomez told authorities he planned to kill the father and also admitted targeting the children, the indictment said.

Hate crimes across the US have increased since the start of the pandemic, including attacks on Asian Americans, who are often brutally — and sometimes fatally — targeted and wrongly blamed for the pandemic.

“We hope today’s verdict will aid victims in the healing process,” FBI special commander Jeffery R. Downey said in a statement.

“Rest assured, the FBI and our law enforcement partners will aggressively prosecute anyone who commits these violent acts to ensure the civil rights of all Americans are protected.”

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