A 21-year-old college student was at a popular Southern California food festival Sunday night when he allegedly had racist remarks thrown at him and was physically assaulted, he said.
The victim, who is Vietnamese American and wishes to remain anonymous, told NBC News that he was standing in line with his girlfriend at the OC Night Market around 9:30 p.m. when he was approached by two women he described as white. The women asked if he could purchase drinks for them as a way to cut the long line, he said.
When he refused, the women left and came back minutes later, when one allegedly told him to “go back to Asia” where he could “go eat dog,” the victim said. A white man with tattoo sleeves accompanied the women and allegedly punched the victim once in the face before several security guards apprehended the man and women and escorted them off the grounds, according to the victim.
“I was just thinking, all this could’ve been avoided if they just got in line,” he said. “She didn’t have to be racist. But I decided to brush it off and just enjoy the rest of the market.”
The victim and his girlfriend later walked to his car in the parking lot shortly after 11 p.m. when a black four-door sedan pulled up next to them, he said.
According to the victim, the man and one of the women who were removed from the market exited the vehicle and began beating him. The victim’s girlfriend attempted to hold off the woman and was hit in the face while the man hit the victim, bloodying his cheek and damaging his teeth, before the pair returned to their car and drove off, the victim said.
The victim was admitted to an emergency room, where he received an MRI, stitches, and temporary teeth fillings, he said. A crowdfunding page has been created to raise money to help him pay his medical and dental bills.
Orange County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Lane Lagaret told NBC News that the attack is currently being investigated as an assault and battery, and not as a hate crime.
“Based on the statements filed, we’ve determined that, while a racial comment was made, this wasn’t a racially-motivated crime,” Lagaret said.
Anyone who has information about the incident or the suspects is encouraged to contact the OC Sheriff’s Department.
“Our event is a platform that celebrates diversity and all cultures in our community and every event draws a more diverse crowd,” Jonny Hwang, the creator and organizer of the OC Night Market, told NBC News. “As organizers and along with our local vendors and supporters, we won’t let a small group of individuals get in the way of our mission. We are happy the victims are on their way to recovery and hope that law enforcement will be able to sort this out.”