Michael Sangbong Rhee, 37, pointed a handgun at the female victim, who was sitting in the driver’s seat of her car with the door open at 1:30 下午. near her apartment in the Harvard-Coronado area of Irvine, 根据新闻稿.
Rhee told the victim that if she wanted to live, she had to move to the backseat of her car. Rhee then opened the rear passenger door and “committed a sexual battery against” the victim before she yelled to a maintenance worker nearby.
Rhee then fled the scene and got into his car; police were able to identify his license plate number via surveillance cameras that captured Rhee’s vehicle leaving the apartment complex.
“Based on the totality of the investigation and statements made by Rhee, detectives believe he targeted the victim because he thought she was white,” a press release from the Irvine PD reads. “Detectives also believe the assault was in retaliation to hate crimes committed against the Asian community.”
IPD detectives will be adding hate crime charges to complaints made against Rhee, who is currently being held on $ 1 million bail on charges of kidnapping with intent to commit sexual assault. Police discovered a BB gun similar to the handgun the victim described at Rhee’s home.
The IPD “and the City of Irvine do not tolerate violent crimes against women or hate-related crimes in our community,” the release states.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans increased nearly 150% 在 2020 在 16 of the largest cities in the U.S. while overall hate crimes dropped by 7%, 根据 the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, 圣贝纳迪诺.
纽约市, Los Angeles and Boston reported the largest number of hate-crime incidents against Asian Americans, 根据研究.