Police are investigating after a young Asian woman was attacked by a man on a busy street in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood Friday.
The motivation behind the attack is not known at this time. But recent attacks on the Asian American and Pacific Islander community or AAPI have gone up dramatically since the start of the pandemic. There were nine attacks in 2020 and last year the number jumped to 60.
An NBC Bay Area reporter was there with his cell phone just as San Francisco police officers detained the suspect at about 1:30 p.m. Friday.
The suspect was taken away on a stretcher. No word from the San Francisco Police Department about why or who he is.
Police told NBC Bay Area that the man was running with a knife and people told officers he’s the one who assaulted the woman just a block away on Columbus.
Libby Staub said that she had seen videos of the attacks in the past. But this was the first time she witnessed one. Staub added that she wondered at the time if the woman was targeted because she’s Asian after hearing what the man said to her after hitting her.
“She fell down, and he said something like ‘See, how you like it?’” Staub said.
The incident happened in the middle of the day and very close to the new location of the city’s iconic Stinking Rose restaurant and witnesses chased after the suspect until he was finally taken into custody about a block away at the corner of Columbus and Vallejo.
“I’m very concerned, you know, because I think there is a lot of people who have been disengaged,” said San Francisco Chinatown Asian Business Representative Forrest Liu.
Liu worked as one of San Francisco Chinatown’s volunteer safety patrol officers beginning in 2020 after the attacks began escalating. Now, he’s working with AAPI-owned businesses, working to bring people back to Chinatown and to make sure people remain focused on ending the unprovoked assaults.
“Clearly it hasn’t, and attacks like this just show that it’s still happening and awareness – like what you’re doing with this interview is important,” Liu said.
One thing that could help police understand exactly what happened is locating the victim of the latest attack. According to police, she couldn’t be found after the suspect was detained.
“Everybody was chasing the guy, because he was running – so,” said Staub.
Staub said she would like to know who the victim is and make sure that she’s OK and added that she hopes she realizes the man who attacked her is now in police custody.