A Japanese American woman ended up with a fractured nose and chipped teeth after she was struck with a hard object in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District last week.
The incident, which was caught on surveillance video, occurred while Noriko Nasu and her boyfriend, Michael Poffenbarger, were walking near 7th and King Streets around 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 25.
Police records say a male suspect struck Nasu in the face with what felt like a rock in a sock. The object knocked her out.
Poffenbarger, who is white, was also struck in the head. He required eight stitches at the hospital.
With the rise in anti-Asian violence, Poffenbarger believes Nasu had been targeted. He described the attacker’s actions as “very, very deliberate” and “really focused” on his girlfriend.
“I truly believe he was trying to kill us,” Poffenbarger told KOMO News. “He definitely targeted her (and) hit her first. She got the most injury out of it. It was a pointed attack on her.”
Nasu, who now has trouble speaking, is a longtime Japanese teacher at Inglemoor High School. Colleagues believe she was also targeted for being Asian.
“In this case, it’s gotten very close to home. It’s one of our staff,” Northshore School District Superintendent Michelle Reid told KIRO 7 News.
The Seattle Police Department is investigating the incident as a hate crime. Last year, the agency recorded 14 reports of such cases, up from nine in 2019 and six in 2018.
The King County Prosecutor’s Office has also been looking at two other anti-Asian cases from January.
One involved a man shoving a woman on a crosswalk at East Denny Way and Bellevue Avenue East. He allegedly yelled, “Asians need to be put in their place!”
The second incident occurred in front of a bank ATM at Fauntleroy Way. Someone allegedly threatened an Asian couple with an airsoft pistol and yelled “Go back to your country!”
“What we’re seeing nationally is Asian American communities are getting attacked at an increasingly alarming rate based on the negative thoughts that Asian Americans are more likely the reason, the inaccurate thoughts that Asian Americans are the reason why COVID is spreading,” Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Leandra Craft told KING 5 News.