Murder charge for 19 year old who barrelled down elderly 84-year-old Thai man in San Francisco
Vicha Ratanapakdee’s daughter Kim told reporters that her father had followed her to the United States after she met her American husband to help take care of their children. She described him as a calm and gentle man. ‘We took care of him but he took care of us also,’ said his son-in-law, Eric Lawlor, this week.
The family of a Thai man who was senselessly assaulted and killed in the Daly City area of San Francisco last week are calling for justice claiming the attack was a hate crime after nearly a year of racial abuse since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in the United States. It follows charges of murder being brought against a 19-year-old arrested in connection with his death. The shocking incident brought a warning, on Wednesday, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok imploring Thai nationals living in the United States to be aware of the danger of a rise in such criminal behaviour.
A 19-year-old from the Daly City area of San Francisco has been charged with the murder of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee who was barreled down at an intersection in the US city early on Thursday morning last in a deliberate act of aggression.
The charges filed against Antoine Watson come after the family of the Thai man called for justice for the attack which his daughter and son-in-law attribute firmly to racial tensions against Asian people in the United States because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Accused’s grandmother in court
It is understood that Mr Watson appeared in court on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in connection with the blatant and unprovoked attack.
His grandmother was there to show her support and shouted out: ‘I love you, Antoine!’ She later told reporters that she wanted to see her grandson released and cleared.
Daughter of Thai victim, Mr Vicha, says he was a ‘good guy’. Kim Lawson says she is blamed for bringing Covid-19 to the United States
‘They blame me, I bring the Covid to this country,’ said Kim Lawson, the deceased Thai man’s daughter on local TV in San Francisco this week.
She described her father, Vicha, as a ‘good man’ and expressed shock at what happened to her elderly parent.
‘I can’t believe what happened to him, he’s a good man, you know a good guy,’ she said, still clearly coming to terms with the loss of her beloved father who followed her to the United States after she married her American-born husband Eric, to take care of the couple’s children.
Son-in-law in no doubt it was murder
Mr Lawson was in no doubt that what happened on a junction between Fortuna and Anza Vista Road in the Daly City area of the Californian city was intentional.
‘Seeing the video is just devastating, it’s hard to watch. If you see the video, there’s nothing not intentional about it,’ he told news reporters.
He was adamant that the death of the Thai man was racially motivated.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok issues warning to Thais in the United States over the incident
On Wednesday, Tanee Sangrat, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok issued a warning to Thai nationals in the United States after the brutal assault which is not the first in the country against Asian people since the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Some racially motivated Americans do not distinguish between Asian countries and, unfortunately, blame them all for the virus because of its origins in China.
The family of Mr Vicha said this was not the first time they have been subject to such racial attacks except, on this occasion, it proved fatal.
Go Fund me oversubscribed as the family gets public support and sympathy after the appalling incident
They have set up a Go Fund Me appeal which has already raised over $35,000 over the $10,000 requested for Mr Vicha’s funeral.
In the appeal, the family asked residents in San Francisco to contact the local district attorney Chesa Boudin to ensure that Antoine Watson and Ms Maylasia Goo, a 19-year-old woman charged as an accessory to the crime, face the full force of the law for what they describe as a racially motivated hate crime.
District Attorney responds to the killing
In recent days, Mr Boudin has responded to the murder of the Thai man expressing his condolences and promising justice: ‘My heart is also with the entire AAPI community for the pain they’re experiencing as a result of this tragedy and too many others over the past year. We will hold the person who committed this senseless act of violence accountable.’
Harrowing CCTV footage of the outrage
CCTV video of the incident is indeed harrowing.
84-year-old Mr Vicha looks on in horror as the young man runs towards him barrelling him with arms outstretched to cause maximum impact.
The youth then ran away leaving the Thai man’s lifeless body on the ground where paramedics found it at 8.30 am. He died later on Saturday, January 30th at San Francisco General Hospital.
The two suspects were picked up by San Francisco Police that day and later charged with his death.
About the Author
Carla Boonkong is a magazine writer who writes extensively about woman’s issues in Thailand. One of her key subjects is the story of Thailand’s growing influence in the world and the role played by Thai women in the process. She is now a staff writer with Thai Examiner.com in Bangkok. Son Nguyen is an international writer and news commentator specialising in Thai news and current affairs. He commenced working with the Thai Examiner News Desk in May 2018.