‘Are you Chinese or Vietnamese?’: 81-year-old Asian man bruised, bloodied in San Diego attack

San Diego Anti-Asian Hate Crime

An elderly Asian man is recovering from what authorities believe was a targeted attack in Southeastern San Diego on Friday morning.

What happened: Mark Sonouvong, 81, was on his usual morning walk at around 10 a.m. when a man allegedly approached him and asked about his ethnicity. Sonouvong refused to answer and was subsequently assaulted, according to a family member.

  • The incident reportedly occurred on Imperial Avenue near Escuela Street in the neighborhood of Lincoln Park, according to The San Diego Union Tribune.
  • “Some fellow came up and asked, ‘Are you Chinese or Vietnamese?’ and my brother-in-law said leave me alone,” Dennis Lambert, who visited Sonouvong at the hospital, told CBS News 8.
  • Lambert said the suspect then shoved Sonouvong to the ground and repeatedly hit him. The attack reportedly left the 81-year-old with multiple injuries, including a punctured left eye and a forehead laceration.
  • “Guy kicked in his ribs pretty good and [gave him a] bloody nose [and a] big, large black eye,” Lambert said. “He’s beat up pretty bad when I went to see him.”

The aftermath: Sonouvong was taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital, where he remained in recovery as of Sunday morning. Meanwhile, San Diego police are investigating the attack as a hate crime.

  • API Initiative Government and Public Relations Director JoAnn Fields said that Friday’s attack was the third against an elderly Asian person in San Diego. API Initiative’s team is proposing a “rapid response action plan” to raise awareness, boost data collection and improve overall safety in the city.
  • “Currently, we don’t have a formalized structure [of reporting],” Fields told KUSI News, adding that they need funds for implementation. “That’s what we need to do so that we can build out a website, have videos in [multiple] languages so [that] we can reach the community, and pull the information and get it out as soon as possible.”
  • Fields said they were told that Sonouvong’s attacker was a Caucasian man. No arrests have been made as of this writing.

Featured Image via CBS 8

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