Texas man sentenced to 25 years after attacking Asian family, including slashing 6-year-old

A Texas man was sentenced to 25 years in prison on hate crime charges after attacking an Asian family, including punching and cutting a father and slashing his 6-year-old child.

On March 14, 2020, Jose Gomez III, 21, entered a Sam’s Club location in Midland, Texas, behind an “Asian family with young children,” the Justice Department said in a news release Thursday.

Gomez believed the family was Chinese and “blamed them for the COVID-19 pandemic,” the department said. Gomez pleaded guilty in February to three counts of committing a hate crime.

After entering the store, he found a serrated steak knife, “bent the blade so that when he held the handle in his fist, the blade rested against his knuckles, sharp-edge facing outward,” and punched the father in the family, the department confirmed. Gomez cut the father’s face.

He then retrieved another knife from the store and targeted the man’s children. Gomez “slashed open the face” of the 6-year-old, and “the blade entered millimeters from (the child’s) right eye, split his right ear, and wrapped around to the back of his skull,” the department said.

Gomez also stabbed an employee at the store who tried to intervene. Gomez also yelled to the Asian family to “Get out of America.”

Officials said Gomez admitted he attacked the employee, who is white, because he “wanted to kill the six-year-old child and (the employee) was preventing him from doing so,” the department said in the news release.

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“Hate crimes targeting Asian Americans have spiked during the pandemic and must be confronted. All people deserve to feel safe and secure living in their communities, regardless of race, color or national origin,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in the news release.

Violence against Asian American people has increased across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. In December, the New York City Police Department reported incidents targeting Asians rose by 361% over the year before.

Contributing: Grace Hauck

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Texas man sentenced after attacking Asian family in hate crimes