‘Get the f*ck out of Tacoma!’: Elderly Cambodian nun injured in attack at Wash. Buddhist temple

Khmer Theravadin Buddhist Temple assault

A 67-year-old Buddhist nun was left with an injured head and ribs after she was attacked in Tacoma, Wash., late last month.

What happened: Ngunuon Huon, a Cambodian residential nun, was assaulted at the Khmer Theravadin Buddhist Temple around 11:40 p.m., Connar Mon, a 16-year-old temple-goer, told NextShark.

  • Huon went to investigate a commotion outside of the temple and encountered one white male and two dark-haired females breaking into the temple’s fence wire.
  • The suspects allegedly kicked the nun to the ground and injured her head and ribs. She was allegedly held by the legs and dragged across the ground by the male suspect. She was transported to the hospital afterwards.
  • Denis Sim, who was later identified by the Tacoma Police Department (TPD), also choked the elderly nun while she was on the ground, which a recording of the assault revealed. 
  • An elderly man identified as Victor Tang, an 80-year-old temple resident, tried to defend the nun, but the male suspect reportedly got a hold of his neck and pushed him to the ground. The recording shows him tugging on the male aggressor before being attacked.
  • Chea Poeuv, the head monk of the Khmer Theravadin Buddhist Temple, called the police and recorded the assault. In one of the videos, the victims are heard crying out as a suspect is heard shouting xenophobic statements such as, “Get the f*ck out of here” and “Get the f*ck out of Tacoma!”

(Recordings via Connar Mon)

Further details: Tacoma police said that officers determined “two tenants who rent rooms under the Temple had left to do laundry. When they returned the gate was locked. They called an acquaintance for help and they started to cut the lock to let them in.” That’s when Huon confronted them and the assault ensued.

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  • Officers arrested a 53-year-old female suspect for aggravated assault, police said. She has since been released from custody.
  • Poeuv told Tacoma News Tribune the female suspect was squatting in the basement of the temple, where he claims other people are brought to take drugs.
  • An officer suggested in a letter to the temple that leaders should get legal advice from a landlord-tenant attorney on what to do about squatters.
  • “The problem we’re running into is that, according to the state, once the tenants has [sic] legal residency there, they have to be legally evicted,” the News Tribune quoted TPD officer Peter Taing as saying in the letter. “Also they can have their friends come and go, since there [sic] considered guests.”
  • The male suspect fled the scene prior to the officers’ arrival, according to the TPD.

Next steps: Mon said he was “heartbroken and furious” when he found out about the attack on his community.

  • “My temple was celebrating the Hungry Ghost Festival (Pchum Ben) and this attack happened during our religious holiday,” he added. “Khmer diasporas congregate at this temple to maintain their cultural practices or reconcile with other Cambodians about their war trauma.”
  • A GoFundMe campaign has been created to help raise money for the temple to build a stronger fence, and it has raised over $2,800 so far.
  • Mon said the next steps for the community in Tacoma include: creating volunteer signups for a citizen night watch, collaboration with the city mayor to offer legal support for the temple to resolve safety issues, and pushing the city and county to address policy as well as come up with short-term and long-term solutions.

 

Additional reporting by Michelle De Pacina.

Featured Image via Connar Mon (left), King5 (right)

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