A woman in Texas is facing charges after being seen using a hammer to threaten a Latina doctor and her husband whom she mistakenly referred to being Mexican during a profanity-laced rant in Houston.
The woman, whom authorities identified as Constance Lynn Bono, 60, was arrested Sunday after "unlawfully, intentionally and knowingly threatening Arturo Cordovez with imminent bodily injury by using and exhibiting a deadly weapon, namely, a hammer," court documents show.
Cordovez was with his wife, Dr. Lia Franco, at the time of the incident. Both Cordovez and Franco are originally from Ecuador, but live in New Orleans.
Franco has been finishing up her medical residency, which includes treating COVID-19 patients during the coronavirus pandemic, NBC's affiliate in Houston KPRC-TV reported. To decompress, the couple decided to spend Memorial Day weekend in Houston.
They noticed Bono following them in a car Sunday and decided to stop their car on the side of the road, Franco told KPRC-TV.
Bono also stopped her vehicle, Cordovez said. “After that, she started showing a hammer through the mirror. She was shaking her arm ... and cursing at us, I think. I was thinking, what did I do?”
The couple then decided to drive to a gas station and call 911. That's when Bono pulled up beside them and started screaming.
“She screamed, ‘You Mexicans, get out of my f---ing country. Go back to your f---ing country,” Franco said.
A video captured Bono getting out of her car, wearing a green shirt with an Irish flag, walking toward the direction of the couple as she waved a hammer in her hand.
"Of course, we were scared," Cordovez told Telemundo in Spanish. "As soon as she heard our accent, she immediately said 'you f---ing Mexicans go back to your f---ing country."
According to Franco, it seemed like the woman "needs help, she needs treatment."
"But that doesn’t justify the fact she needs to follow the laws of her country,” Franco said.
Court documents show that authorities requested Bono be evaluated to determine whether she has a mental illness or any other intellectual disabilities.
Bono has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony, according to court documents. If convicted, she could serve up to 20 years in prison. The charge can be elevated to a first-degree felony if prosecutors think this was a racially motivated attack, KPRC-TV reported. The case is expected to go to a grand jury.
Bono was released on bond Wednesday, pending a court appearance in July. Her attorney, Hans Nielsen, told NBC News in a statement that his "client adamantly denies the allegation that has been filed against her."
"She has two young nephews who are Hispanic that she loves dearly and she is not a racist. The claim that she is a racist is a false allegation and she denies it," Nielsen said.