An Asian business owner in Las Vegas reportedly wound up in a hospital bed with no recollection of prior events after falling victim to an unprovoked attack in his shop last week.
The victim was working at the back of Cloud Tea near Buffalo and Flamingo Roads when the suspect allegedly entered the business yelling anti-Asian slurs.
The owner’s wife said the suspect first entered the shop yelling, then walked away before entering and yelling again, according to FOX 5.
The victim, who reportedly came out with an unloaded firearm, was then attacked by the suspect in the parking lot.
“The next thing he remembered is laying face down, his hand still in his right pocket where the firearm was,” said Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Mike Dickerson, who described the attack as “motivated by racism,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“He remembers the defendant demanding his gun, saying give me your gun, as he is beating him mercilessly.”
Two employees confirmed that the owner, who is Chinese, was the only person attacked during the incident, the Review-Journal previously reported.
The victim lost consciousness during the attack. He woke up at a hospital, where he remained in recovery as of Tuesday.
“He suffered severe injuries. Fractured ribs, broken teeth, abrasions throughout his face… the picture of his face is just unbelievable,” Dickerson said.
After the attack, the suspect, identified as 36-year-old Anthony Joseph Dishari, allegedly returned to the shop, where he then demanded water from the people he’d been calling racial slurs “all night”.
“Do you think I’m a [expletive] joke? You think this is a joke,” Dishari reportedly said while holding up his bloody hands, according to the Review-Journal.
Dickerson said nine people that had been sitting in the shop before Dishari re-entered tried to leave, but Dishari was “following them out, still taunting them.” He also allegedly stole cash out of the shop’s tip jar.
Dishari has been arrested and charged with (1) attempted robbery, (2) battery resulting in substantial bodily harm, (3) battery with intent to commit mayhem robbery or grand larceny and (4) resisting a public officer, a misdemeanor. Records show the first three charges were “motivated by bias or hatred” toward the victim.
Dishari’s bail was set at $25,000 on Wednesday. He was ordered to wear electronic monitoring and stay away from the shop if released, KLAS reported.
Sean Sullivan, Dishari’s lawyer, said his client was jumped before getting into a separate fight with another man after drinking at a nearby bar prior to the incident. He denied that his client was racist, recounting his ties to the local community.
“He wasn’t a racist in high school, and he’s not a racist now. He wasn’t a racist in the U.S. military when he joined the Air Force after high school,” Sullivan said, according to the Review-Journal.
The incident follows another attack in Las Vegas’ Chinatown last month. Chengyan Wang, an employee at Shanghai Taste, was deep-cleaning the restaurant when Rashawn Gaston-Anderson allegedly broke in and shot him multiple times.
While the case is not being investigated as a hate crime, it has mobilized Asian American organizations seeking to more effectively protect AAPI communities in the area. Only two anti-Asian incidents were reported to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) in 2020 and 2021, but there have been concerns of massive underreporting.
“Crimes are underreported. I feel like it’s a problem, and it’s very problematic,” Colin Fukunaga, another business owner in Chinatown, told KTNV.
Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft urged the public to speak up, saying it is important to not let one incident slide.
“I am extremely concerned about the rising number of hate crimes occurring in our community and nationally. No one should have to fear being targeted because of their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or disability,” Naft told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Capt. Michelle Tavarez of the LVMPD’s Spring Valley Area Command acknowledged language barriers are a problem, but she still urged people to file reports.
“The delay an interpreter causes can be troublesome, but I really want to tell you guys we’d rather have that delay than no call at all. We cannot help what we don’t know,” Tavarez said, according to KTNV.