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Regional Interests

SF Man Charged With Attempted Murder in Stabbing of Two Asian Seniors

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin on Thursday afternoon announced charges against a man suspected of stabbing two elderly Asian women on Market Street earlier this week.

Patrick Thompson, a 54-year-old San Francisco resident, is being charged with two counts of premeditated attempted murder, along with multiple counts of assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse, the San Francisco DA’s office said in a statement Thursday. The charges carry a potential life sentence.

Boudin will personally represent the prosecution at the arraignment Friday and ask that Thompson be held in jail until his trial, according to his office.

“The strength and courage of these women is inspiring,” Boudin said in the statement. “Their pain was tangible and will serve as a constant reminder of the importance of our work to make San Francisco safer for all.”

The stabbing incident occurred late Tuesday afternoon at a bus stop close to 4th and Stockton Streets, near the Powell Street BART station. San Francisco police found two women, one in her 60s, the other in her 80s, suffering from stab wounds, the San Francisco Police Department said in a statement. One of the victims had a punctured lung and required extensive surgery, the DA said. Both were treated at a local hospital and are reportedly in stable condition.

“What happened is a devastating tragedy, and we will use the full force of our office’s resources to prosecute this case,” DA spokesperson Rachel Marshall said in the statement, calling it a “brutal attack.”

The incident is among a growing number of recent anti-Asian attacks that have rattled the region and the nation.

Within hours of the stabbing, police arrested Thompson, who officers recognized “from prior police contacts,” the SFPD said in a statement.

Officers also obtained surveillance footage of the attack and said in an email to KQED that it showed “without provocation or warning the suspect began stabbing the victims.”

Police booked Thompson on suspicion of attempted murder and elder abuse. The DA’s office said it is now working with police to investigate any evidence of a hate crime.

Thompson has been intermittently involved in the city’s criminal justice and mental health systems for several years, the DA’s office said. Nearly four years ago, he was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon and battery, according to court records reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle. A judge at the time found him incompetent to stand trial and ordered him to receive mental health treatment at a state hospital in Napa.

When Thompson returned to San Francisco in 2018, he entered a mental health diversion program in lieu of detention. Thompson’s defense attorney last year sought his exit from the program, which a judge granted, the DA said.

Family members of one of the victims, the woman in her mid-80s, whose status was changed on Wednesday from threatening to non-life threatening, have started a GoFundMe account to cover her medical expenses. The campaign has already raised nearly $100,000 as of Thursday evening, almost twice its goal.

“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.”

In March, following a mass shooting in Georgia that killed six Asian women and two others, Mayor London Breed directed the SFPD to ramp up foot patrols in neighborhoods with high concentrations of Asian American residents and businesses.

Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the district where the attack took place, said he supports investigating the incident 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.

Reports of anti-Asian hate crimes, some loosely linked to the coronavirus pandemic, have spiked in recent months in a number of cities across the country, including San Francisco, where 12 attacks were reported in the first quarter of 2021. That’s up from five during the same period the year before, marking a 140% increase, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino.

In a new report released this week, Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition addressing anti-Asian racism, said there’s been a 64% increase in reports of physical assault against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community across the nation over the past year. From mid-March 2020 to the end of March 2021, more than 6,000 hate incidents were reported to Stop AAPI Hate and its partner groups.

About a third of reported incidents happened in public streets or parks, and a nearly equal share occurred in businesses.

“This report shows that incidents of hate are not abating,” said Stop AAPI Hate co-founder Cynthia Choi. “So this is really very disconcerting, and a very challenging time for our community.”

The San Francisco division of the FBI says it is expanding resources to investigate hate crimes and increasing outreach efforts.

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 man who was pushed down in San Francisco in February, broke a hip and spent weeks in the hospital.

And in January, an 84-year-old man in San Francisco died after being forcefully pushed to the ground.

While pledging to aggressively prosecute the case, Boudin’s office on Thursday also called on lawmakers to implement more effective prevention and treatment systems to address the many mental health crises that occur regularly on San Francisco’s streets.

“For over 40 years, we have failed to invest resources into treatment, supportive housing and other necessary services for those who are mentally ill and their families. We are all less safe as a result of that legacy,” Marshall, the DA spokesperson, said in Thursday’s statement. “Public safety demands urgent, new approaches to treating those with mental illness in order to protect everyone.”

This article includes reporting from KQED’s Julie Chang and Holly McDede, and from the Associated Press.

Copyright 2021 KQED