WARNING: This article contains descriptions of violence that may be disturbing to some readers.
The suspect who allegedly stabbed a Burmese family, including a 6-year-old child, in 2020 at a Sam’s Club Warehouse in Midland, Texas, has pleaded guilty in court.
Jose Gomez III, 21, pleaded guilty to three counts of committing a hate crime for attacking a family he believed to be of Chinese descent, according to the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday.
Gomez is facing a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for each count of offense.
According to court documents, Gomez allegedly entered Sam’s Club on March 14, 2020, and followed the family around. He identified the family as a “threat,” claiming they came “from the country who started spreading that disease around.”
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Gomez reportedly looked for a serrated steak knife in the store and bent it so that “the blade rested against his knuckles, sharp-edge facing outward.” He then went back to the family to punch the father and cut his face in the process. Afterward, he found an 8-inch knife in the store and targeted the children, a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old. He slashed the older boy’s face open from the area near his right eye to the back of his head.
A Sam’s Club employee was stabbed for trying to intervene. After being held down, Gomez reportedly shouted, “Get out of America!” He allegedly blamed the Asian family for the COVID-19 pandemic and said he intended on killing the 6-year-old boy but was stopped by the employee.
Gomez was disarmed by an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent who was at Sam’s Club at the time of the attack, as NextShark previously reported. The Burmese father, identified in previous reports as Bawi Cung Nung, and his eldest son were taken to Midland Memorial Hospital in critical condition.
“Racially motivated hate crimes targeting the Asian American community are on the rise and have no place in our society today,” said Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice. “All people deserve to feel safe and secure living in their communities, regardless of race, color or national origin.”
“The defendant violently and horrifically attacked an unsuspecting innocent family because of how they looked and where he thought they came from,” said Ashley Chapman Hoff, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas. “We will continue to vigorously enforce federal laws that protect civil rights and combat bias-motivated violence.”
In a statement, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Downey of the FBI El Paso Field Office encouraged victims and witnesses of hate crimes to reach out to the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.