- Jose Gomez III assaulted a Burmese family at Sam’s Club and misidentified them as Chinese.
- Gomez believes they were “from the state who started spreading this disease all over,” according to police.
- Gomez was sentenced to 25 years in prison for hate crimes.
Federal prosecutors said Thursday that a Texas man was sentenced to 25 years in prison on federal hate crimes charges after attacking an Asian family at a Sam’s Club, accusing them of spreading COVID-19.
Jose Gomez III, 21, pleaded guilty to following a Burmese family at the Sam’s Club warehouse in Midland, Texas in March 2020 with intent to kill, According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Justice.
The family includes a father and his two young children, ages 6 and 2.
According to the statement, Gomez believes that the family is Chinese and considers them a threat because they are “from the country that started spreading this disease around.” He then followed them into the store for several minutes before leaving them to find a serrated steak knife in the store.
Gomez returned and punched the father in the face, cutting him with the knife, then letting them retrieve an eight-inch knife from the store, prosecutors said.
Gomez then returned with a knife to attack children sitting in the basket of a shopping cart – slashing the 6-year-old’s face, according to the statement.
According to the statement, the knife entered a millimeter into the child’s right eye and slashed his right ear.
Gomez then stabbed a Sam’s Club employee who intervened to prevent him from assaulting the family further, according to the statement.
According to the statement, Gomez shouted at the Asian family “Get out of America” while being suspended by a Sam’s Club employee.
The Department of Justice noted the rising rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, driven in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hateful violence will not be tolerated in our community and everyone deserves to feel safe from such brutal harm,” US Attorney Ashley C. Hoff said in a statement. “Today’s ruling sends the message loud and clear that our office will vigorously prosecute federal hate crimes as it pursues justice for the victims.”