San Francisco police officers from Northern Station responded to reports of an assault at the laundromat at 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday and met the victim, an unnamed 66-year-old Asian male, at the laundromat.
“The victim told officers that he was walking his dog when he was approached by an unknown male suspect. The suspect held a lighter close to the victim’s dog. The victim asked the suspect what he was doing, and the suspect became verbally confrontational. The victim attempted to walk away but the suspect followed him. The suspect spit on the victim and punched him in the face,” police said in a summary of the incident.
The suspect then fled the scene, and the victim was transported to a nearby hospital.
ABC 7 reporter Dion Lim first reported the incident on Twitter, saying the suspect “tried to set Cody the laundromat Golden Retriever in Nob Hill on FIRE and then punched his owner in the face” on Wednesday, along with a photo of the business owner.
The laundromat owner and his dog, who sits atop the dryers in the business, are apparently a popular duo in the neighborhood.
“Something very touching was seeing a young woman stop by with flowers after she heard the news,” Lim tweeted. “The owner is okay– but was taken to the hospital & had his eye wound glued. The perp allegedly called the owner the ‘N’ word before punching him.”
Lim also noted that “a neighbor … came rushing out” to help the laundromat owner with “a baseball bat” when the incident occurred.
No arrests have been made in connection to the incident at this time, police said.
Authorities are asking anyone with information to call the SFPD Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 or anonymously text information to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD.
Stop AAPI Hate, a group combating anti-Asian violence, said in its most recent national report that 9,081 hate incidents have been reported to its office since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and June of 2021. Nearly 4,600 of those hate incidents occurred in 2020 and more than 4,500 took place in 2021.
Anni Chung, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Self-Help for the Elderly, says the seniors they help were hit by a “second virus that is a hate virus.” The nonprofit provides food and programs to more than 40,000 older adults in the Bay Area, most of them Asian. The organization went from transporting a pre-pandemic load of 400 meals daily to over 5,000 per day because they were afraid to go out — not due to affordability or transportation issues.
Last year, they gave out 963,000 meals overall compared with 436,000 typically.
“Sometimes when we talk to seniors, they say this hatred drove them to be stuck in their house even worse than the pandemic,” Chung said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.