Six men were arrested and charged with hate crimes for their alleged involvement in more than 70 cases of violent robberies, burglaries and thefts that have targeted over 100 Asian American women in the San Francisco Bay Area since last year, the San Jose Police Department announced on Wednesday.
What they did: The crime spree occurred between October 2020 and September 2021, police said. The suspects, all aged between 20 and 30, are believed to be part of a “prolific robbery crew” that primarily targeted Asian females, many of whom were injured during the attacks.
- The suspects were identified as Derje Damond Blanks, 23, from San Jose; Hassani Burleson Ramsey, 24, from Oakland; Anthony Michael Robinson, 24, from Stockton; Malik Short, 22, from Tracy; Clarence Jackson, 21, from East Palo Alto and Cameron Alonzo Moody, 27, also from East Palo Alto.
- Police found numerous firearms — including a ghost gun — during the investigation. They linked the robberies after determining that virtually all of them followed the same pattern.
- Police said the men targeted more than 100 Asian American women because of their gender and ethnicity, even hurling racial remarks during the attacks. They allegedly assumed that the victims did not use banks and always had cash on them, according to Stockton Record.
- A woman who identified as a daughter of one of the victims described how the suspects targeted her mother. “They blocked her car from behind and they jumped out, snatched her bag,” the woman told NBC Bay Area. “It’s something that is still very traumatizing to her. She still doesn’t go to the market alone.”
Why this matters: The arrests provide some sense of relief amid a pandemic that has seen a surge in attacks against the Asian American community. The suspects’ actions during their crime spree were deemed sufficient to warrant charges with hate crime enhancements.
- “I decided to charge this also as a hate crime for a few reasons,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeffrey Rosen said, according to KPIX 5. “Number one, it adds additional time in custody which is appropriate for a case of this magnitude. Number two, I recognize and I think we all recognize, that a hate crime doesn’t only affect the individual victims involved — and in this case, more than 100 Asian women who were victims of this violent gang — but it also affects people in the Asian American community who are not targeted because it makes them fearful that they could be targeted next.”
- San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata praised department members and external agencies for working on the “long and complex” investigation. “Thanks to their hard work, there are six less predators targeting members of our community,” Mata said in a statement.
- Authorities also attributed the success of the investigation to community members coming together. “The community being willing to come forward and the courage of a victim to come forward and say, ‘I’m not going to be a victim, I’m not going to let you do this to me’ is absolutely critical,” San Jose Police Department Capt. Brian Shab said, according to ABC7 News. “It was the purest example of collaboration.”
- Police, county and city leaders reportedly met with community members at East San Jose’s Grand Century Mallon Tuesday to “further build the important bond between law enforcement and city residents.”.
- San Jose City Councilmember Maya Esparza, who represents the Little Saigon district, said the city “will not stand for hate crimes here at all.”
- At least one of the suspects will receive a prison sentence of up to 95 years if convicted, ABC7 News reported. Three of them, however, have already posted bail and are out of jail, as per NBC Bay Area.
Police believe the suspects are responsible for more robberies in the Bay Area. Victims of unreported incidents associated to the suspects, as well as anyone with information are urged to reach out to Detective Estantino #4339 of the San Jose Police Department’s Robbery Unit at (408) 277-4166.