A man has been charged in connection with a brutal attack on a Utah Transit Authority (UTA) bus driver and a subsequent attempt to disarm police officers last week.
Cameron Michael Ward, 25, is facing multiple felony charges and misdemeanors for the Dec. 20 incident, which reportedly occurred in the area of Millcreek Trax Station at 210 W. 3300 South.
Ward approached UTA driver Neil Uemura after the latter pulled into the station and stepped off his bus, as per charging documents seen by KSL. Ward then reportedly asked the driver, “Where are you from?”
According to the charging documents, Ward punched Uemura multiple times in the head and face. After Uemura fell to the ground, Ward reportedly continued to beat him up and kick him.
Uemura managed to get up but was knocked down a second time. Ward then “attempted to gouge out [Uemura’s] left eye, which caused a crescent shaped laceration to [his] left cornea,” the charges stated.
Uemura, a military veteran, reportedly suffered multiple injuries in the unprovoked attack. He believes he was targeted for being of Asian descent.
“I didn’t put it together till I got to the hospital why this guy was asking me where I’m from and I’m like, ‘I’m from Salt Lake City,’” Uemura told Fox 13. “Then I thought, ‘Oh, he means what country are you from,’ so I’m thinking this is more or less a hate crime.”
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Uemura has been with the UTA for seven years. Aside from a laceration to his left cornea, the attack reportedly left him with a ruptured eardrum, a left frontal scalp hematoma, facial swelling and another laceration at the back of his head that required six staples to close up.
Ward was arrested shortly after the attack, but not without incident.
While being ordered, he punched an officer in the head and face, according to reports.
The officer pinned Ward to the ground, but the latter reportedly continued to resist and even attempted to grab the officer’s gun from his holster. As backup deputies arrived, Ward kicked one of them so hard in the torso “that his gear on his vest was knocked off,” the affidavit noted.
The deputies ultimately managed to restrain Ward and handcuff him, according to reports.
Ward was charged with two counts of disarming a police officer (a first-degree felony), aggravated assault (a third-degree felony), two counts of assault on an officer (a class A misdemeanor) and interference with arresting officer (a class B misdemeanor), ABC 4 reported. He has been booked into Salt Lake County Jail.