A man has been arrested in connection to a brazen robbery attempt that left a Filipino American photojournalist and his wife seriously injured in Sacramento, California.
The suspect, identified as Keylen Xavier Lee Farley, was arraigned last month following an investigation that led to his arrest and the subsequent filing of felony charges by Deputy District Attorney Casey Newton, according to Rappler.
Farley, who is currently detained at the Sacramento County Main Jail, was charged with three felony counts by the Sacramento District Attorney: two counts for robbery of the second degree and aggravated assault and a third count for elder abuse.
He is set to face his victims, Nicanor Arriola, the president of the Asian American Press Club of the U.S., and his wife Julienne Ochengco in a scheduled mandatory settlement of the case on Monday.
On Feb. 1, Farley allegedly attempted to steal Arriola’s professional camera while he and his wife were strolling around the Sacramento state capitol in broad daylight.
The couple, who were visiting family just outside of Sacramento, were taking photographs when Farley approached Arriola and tried to grab the camera from his left shoulder.
Arriola, who was wearing his press badge and had two large cameras on his shoulders, was knocked to the ground when he resisted.
A witness at the scene was able to capture a video of the incident, which took place at around 2:45 p.m.
In the video, which was shared with the SoJannelleTV YouTube channel, Farley can be seen dragging Arriola on the pavement and kicking him on the chest multiple times as he was on the ground.
Ochengco was also reportedly thrown to the floor as she tried to restrain the man from attacking her husband.
Throughout the incident, Arriola refused to give up his camera, later explaining the importance of the footage he had collected as part of his journalism work in an interview with host Janelle So of SoJannelleTV.
The suspect fled in a getaway car, which was driven by another person that police have yet to identify.
The victims were taken to the University of California Davis Medical Center, where Arriola was treated for six broken ribs resulting from the incident.
Arriola also suffered multiple abrasions all over his body. He and his wife, who suffered minor injuries, were hospitalized for several days before they were allowed to recover at home. The couple has reportedly traveled back to Carson in Southern California despite not having fully recovered.
“I’m trying to recover, slowly. I’m still in pain. But I feel a little better now,” Arriola told So Jannelle TV. “It’s difficult trying to go to bed since I broke six ribs. It’s hard to go up. When I go to the bathroom at night it takes time figuring out how I can go back to bed.”
The couple has not returned to work. Ochengco reportedly has difficulty sleeping at night due to the traumatic experience.
Arriola, who had been covering the rise of anti-Asian attacks in California as a photojournalist, believes that the incident was a targeted hate crime.
“I really feel it’s Asian hate because they picked us out of the many tourists in there and we’re the only Asians there,” he told Rappler.
However, Neil Frank Ferrer, the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco, said that there was insufficient evidence to establish a hate crime under the standard proof required in criminal cases.
Following the incident, the Asian American Press Club of the U.S. issued a statement condemning the attack.
We, the (members of the) Asian American Press Club of the U.S. condemn the wrong that had been done to one of our own AAPCUS family member, our president Nicanor “Nikki” Arriola and his wife. The initial premise is that the perpetrator was after his camera equipment. As we all know, Nikki’s camera represents his profession, personhood and his livelihood. He did what any human being would have done. He protected his prized possession with his life. We solidly stand behind Nikki Arriola and will do all we can to give him the justice he deserves.
Arriola, who is grateful that no one died in the attack, has received comfort and support from his community.
“Your presence is big enough to heal our pain,” Arriola said.“The physical pain will heal but the trauma from the experience…that’s a difficult one.”