The Oakland Police Department is trying to determine if a new attack on an elderly Filipino man was a hate crime.
Police say the 65-year-old victim was brutally attacked and carjacked at gunpoint Thursday afternoon outside a Oakland Food Maxx grocery store.
The attack not only cost him his car, but it sent him to the hospital and effectively put him out of work.
“It’s really happening in our backyards every single day,” said Sara Guillermo, the victim's niece.
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Guillermo doesn’t mince words when talking about crimes against the AAPI community. It's not just because she leads a nonprofit that deals directly in activism but because it also hits close to home.
Guillermo told NBC Bay Area that her other relatives are still too frightened to talk. But Guillermo also said the words leading up to the attack were racist.
"While they were trying to steal his car, they thought he was Chinese, so they were talking about Covid and being an Asian American in America,” she said.
Guillermo added her uncle works as a driver for Lyft and relies on his car for his sole source of income. She said he put up a fight to try to keep it.
“He was hit over the head with a gun and he was trying to stop him from taking his car. So, he put his body to get in the way of getting inside the vehicle and the person took off with his car and dragged his body in the parking lot,” she said.
That fight landed the victim at Highland Hospital, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The trauma runs deeper than the physical ones. The 65-year-old Alameda man also fears his attacker could return.
“This happened just blocks away from their home and so we don’t to create friction with what is already happening in the community,” Guillermo said.
NBC Bay Area reached out to FoodMaxx, who declined to comment. Police are also still trying to determine if this was a crime motivated by hate or simply a crime of opportunity and had not provided any other information.
Guillermo and her family have taken to social media to ask help from the public in finding the stolen car.
Police say the suspect stole a white Toyota Corolla with California license plate "8GMA097." If the public sees the car, they are asked to call police.