Suspect Arrested in SF Stabbing of 2 Asian Seniors, Police Investigating Attack for Racial Bias

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Hundreds gather at Portsmouth Square in San Francisco’s Chinatown on March 20, 2021, for a Stop AAPI Hate rally which made space for people to grieve, make art and to honor the lives lost to recent anti-Asian violence.
Hundreds gather at Portsmouth Square in San Francisco’s Chinatown on March 20, 2021 for a Stop AAPI Hate rally, which made space for people to grieve, make art and to honor the lives lost to recent anti-Asian violence. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

A San Francisco man has been arrested in the stabbing of two Asian seniors in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood. The attack is just one in a rising number of similar anti-Asian incidents that have rattled the region. And the wave of violence has prompted conversations about how to address anti-Asian racism.

At 4:51 p.m. Tuesday, San Francisco Police Department officers responded to a double stabbing at a bus stop near 4th and Stockton Streets, near the Powell Street BART station.

When officers arrived at the scene they found a 63-year-old woman and an 84-year-old woman suffering from stab wounds, police said in a statement. The women were taken to a local hospital and both are currently in stable condition.

The Bay Area responds to hateful attacks

Within hours of the incident, police arrested 54-year-old San Francisco resident Patrick Thompson. In a statement, SFPD said "Through the course of the investigation, officers obtained an image of the suspect. Tenderloin officers recognized the suspect from prior police contacts." Officers also obtained surveillance footage of the attack and said it showed "without provocation or warning the suspect began stabbing the victims."

Police booked Thompson on suspicion of attempted murder and elder abuse, and are investigating the attack for racial bias. San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said charges will be announced Thursday.

The grandsons of the 85-year-old victim have started a GoFundMe account to cover her medical expenses as she recovers.

"While she was waiting at the bus stop, she was stabbed with a long knife in her right arm and entered into her chest," Drew Eng, the victim's grandson, wrote on the GoFundMe page. "San Francisco is my home and my grandma's home. We need to feel safe where we live and not in constant fear. Please keep her and our family in your thoughts and prayers."

The account has surpassed its goal of $50,000 in donations as of Wednesday afternoon.

Boudin said he’s outraged by Tuesday’s senseless attack. In a statement, he said his office is still receiving evidence from SFPD and that his office will announce charging details Thursday. He said they expect the suspect to be arraigned as soon as Friday afternoon.

“Attacks on our [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community and especially on our elderly residents are horrifying, not just to the victims who suffer physical injury but to the entire AAPI community that has been living in fear," Boudin said, in the statement. "We will hold those who commit these acts of violence and hate accountable."

To address the rise in racist attacks against the Asian and Asian American community in San Francisco, Mayor London Breed asked SFPD to ramp up foot patrols in areas with a high concentration of Asian and Asian American residents and businesses in addition to launching community safety teams earlier this year. Breed’s office also created the SFPD Community Liaison Officer Unit in October 2020 to serve as a liaison to the city’s Asian and Asian American community and more, including communities with limited English proficiency and elderly victims. Additionally, local volunteers have taken to patrolling neighborhoods.

"The Department is aware of the concerns in the community following recent high-profile incidents in various neighborhoods of the City," SFPD spokesperson Robert Rueca wrote, in a statement. "These crimes impact all of us and SFPD officers will maintain high visibility vehicle and foot patrols to help deter crime and reassure our communities across our City.”

Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the district in which the attack took place, said he supports investigating the attack as a potential hate crime.

"We've seen these types of deliberate, intentional, targeted attacks on Asian people so often that I don't think it's just a coincidence. I think that they're being targeted," Haney said.

Haney added that such violence has ripple effects across San Francisco.

"This has huge impacts on our city when people are afraid to go outside, they're afraid to go onto public transit — our city can't operate and our city is failing," he said. “If people don't feel safe to go outside on a busy street in the middle of the day, our city and small businesses, [the city's] general quality of life is deeply, deeply, deeply damaged.”

Haney said more work needs to be done “at every level,” from city departments to the criminal justice system, including increasing community safety patrols and foot patrols, expanding support for victims and holding accountable anyone engaging in such kinds of violence.

The Community Youth Center of San Francisco, an organization providing case management services to both victims and their families, said at this time neither wish to speak to media about the incident, but they appreciate the community's support and respectfully request to be given privacy.

Asians and Asian Americans have been the targets of unprovoked attacks in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere in the nation in recent months.


Stop AAPI Hate, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that tracks self-reported incidents of hate against Asians and Asian Americans, recorded 3,795 incidents of anti-Asian hate and discrimination from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021 — 931 of those incidents took place in the San Francisco Bay Area.

California prosecutors have filed assault and hate crime charges against a man accused of an attack last week in which he allegedly yelled racial slurs before knocking down Carl Chan, president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, who himself has advocated for more prevention of hateful attacks.

In separate San Francisco attacks in March, an 83-year-old Vietnamese man was knocked down and broke his neck in the fall and a 77-year-old woman was similarly attacked. Police arrested a man on charges of assault and elder abuse in both cases.

Another 83-year-old Bay Area man was pushed down in February, broke a hip and spent weeks in the hospital and in rehabilitation.

The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.