A man is facing hate crime charges on suspicion of a homophobic, racist attack on a gay, Asian man and his parents.
According to charging documents seen by the Washington Blade, Patrick Joseph Miller Trebat allegedly started following Sean Lai, an out gay Chinese man, and his parents as they walked through Washington DC’s Observatory Circle neighbourhood, where they live.
He allegedly called Lai a “f****t” and shouted “You are not Americans!” before the attack. He also told the family “You don’t belong here”, according to court records.
The affidavit described how Trebat assaulted Lai’s father “with a closed fit in the back of the head”, causing him to fall to the ground.
According to the document, Trebat also pushed Lai’s mother to the ground. Lai intervened to get Trebat away from his parents, resulting in a “physical struggle” between him and the attacker, it adds.
Officers nearby quickly acted and arrested Trebat, according to the Blade, at about 10.30pm on Saturday (7 August).
The affidavit said the three victims were taken to the hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The father suffered a broken wrist, and the mother suffered arm pain after the assault. Lai fractured a finger as a result of the vile attack, the court records states.
William Miller, a spokesperson for the US attorney’s office, told the Washington Blade that the office is “continuing to investigate the facts and circumstances of the case” and had “no further comment at this time”.
According to the Blade, Trebat was released from jail two days later as part of a court release programme. He will return to court in November.
Activists participate in a vigil in response to the Atlanta spa shootings 17 March 2021 in the Chinatown area of Washington, DC. A gunman opened fire in three spas in the Atlanta, Georgia area, the day before killing eight people, including six women of Asian descent. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
The attack on the Lai family comes amid a spike in violence against the Asian community in the US.
In March, the non-profit organisation Stop AAPI Hate found anti-Asian hate incident reports nearly doubled in the past year. It revealed that the number of incidents reported surged from 3,795 in March 2020 to 6,603 in March of this year. Almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of incidents involved verbal harassment while nearly one in five (18 per cent) included shunning.
The third-largest category (13 per cent) of total reported anti-Asian incidents included physical assaults.