Hate Crime? Alleged killer of elderly Filipino arrested by Arizona police

Coconuts Manila
·3 min read

The suspect behind the killing of a 74-year-old Filipino in Phoenix, Arizona has been arrested, the police announced last week.

Filipino Juanito Falcon was attacked by the suspect, Marcus Williams, near 17th Avenue and Bethany Home Road, the Phoenix police said in a tweet. Falcon died two days later from the injuries. The police said it was still unclear why Williams attacked the elderly Filipino.

Read: PH embassy in Washington DC wants Asian-Americans protected from hate crimes

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Williams allegedly punched Falcon in the face, which caused the latter to fall and hit his head. Williams fled but witnesses were able to identify his car before he sped away. Falcon was also able to tell the police the last two numbers of the vehicle’s license plate. Williams was found about three miles from the crime scene with his girlfriend; both of them refused to answer the cops’ questions.

The suspect was arrested on Wednesday and is facing a murder charge. His bail was set at US$500,000.

Falcon’s daughter Malou Acunin expressed her sadness over her father’s passing in a statement.

Read: Filipino man’s face disfigured after attack in New York subway

“I have a lot of questions. Nobody should experience what happened to my father. I want this incident to be a cause of awareness to everybody,” she said.

“I don’t want the same incidence of violence and crime to happen to anybody especially to the elderly. My father was just doing his morning walk. He was a good man and loved by many. He could have lived longer with his family if this didn’t happen,” Acunin added.

The Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce condemned Falcon’s death, which comes after a string of violence that has been committed against elderly Asian-Americans.

“We absolutely condemn the attacks against Asian-Americans. These acts of violence are showing up regularly in the news, and it’s painful to think that someone’s grandparent, child, sibling, or parent will never hug them or share a smile with them again,” it said.

Asian-Americans have been the target of hate crimes since the pandemic began. An elderly Thai man out for his morning walk died in January in San Francisco after a teenager barreled through him. A 61-year-old Filipino had his whole face disfigured when he was attacked by a man wielding a box cutter in New York City early this month. A few weeks ago, an elderly Vietnamese woman was robbed in San Jose, California.

Advocates say that the attacks against Asian-Americans were reminiscent of “yellow peril,” a racist ideology that arose in the 19th century that sees Asians as a threat to the Western world. Such crimes are allegedly linked to the spread of the coronavirus, which was first discovered in Wuhan, China in late 2019.

In response, community leaders put up a website called Stop AAPI (Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders) Hate, which began recording instances of such crimes. As of this month, the website has received more than 2,800 first-hand reports of hate crimes, which included verbal harassment (71%), shunning (21%), physical assault (9%), and being spit on (6%).

This article, Hate Crime? Alleged killer of elderly Filipino arrested by Arizona police, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.