- Jose Gomez III attacked a Burmese family at Sam’s Club, misidentifying them as Chinese.
- According to police, Gomez believed he was “from the country that started spreading this disease.”
- Gomez was sentenced to 25 years in prison for hate crimes.
A Texas man was sentenced to 25 years in prison on federal hate crime charges after he attacked an Asian family at Sam’s Club — blaming them for spreading COVID-19, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
Jose Gomez III, 21, pleaded guilty to following a Burmese family into a Sam’s Club warehouse in Midland, Texas in March 2020 with the intent to kill, according to a statement from the Ministry of Justice.
The family consisted of a father and his two young children, aged 6 and 2.
According to the statement, Gomez believed the family was Chinese and perceived them as a threat because they were “from the country that started spreading this disease around.” He then followed them around the store for several minutes before leaving them to find a serrated steak knife in the store.
Gomez returned and punched the father in the face, cutting him with the knife, then let them take an eight-inch knife from the store, according to prosecutors.
Gomez then returned with a knife to attack the children sitting in the shopping cart — slashing the 6-year-old’s face open, according to the release.
According to the statement, the knife went a millimeter from the child’s right eye and broke his right ear.
Gomez then stabbed a Sam’s Club employee who intervened to stop him from further assaulting the family, according to the statement.
According to the report, Gomez yelled at the Asian family to “Get out of America” while being pinned down by the Sam’s Club employee.
The Department of Justice has noted the increased rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, caused in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hate-fueled violence will simply not be tolerated in our society, and every person deserves to feel safe from such vicious harm,” U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff said in a statement. “Today’s sentence sends the message loud and clear that our office will aggressively prosecute federal hate crimes while seeking justice for victims.”