Los Angeles police are investigating an allegation of an assault last week on an Air Force veteran in Koreatown as a potential hate crime, investigators said.
The man, Denny Kim, 27, told NBC Los Angeles that he was assaulted and knocked to the ground and that his nose was broken Feb. 16 by two men who hurled racial slurs like "ching chong" and "Chinese virus."
Kim's friend Joseph Cha said he was present and was also called racial slurs as he screamed at the attackers to stop.
Police Detective Hee Cho confirmed that an investigation is underway and that the Feb. 16 incident is being treated as a potential hate crime.
"I was terrified for my life, as you can see the physical injuries on my face," Kim told NBC Los Angeles. "And I didn't know what to think of it. It was all just a blur. ... I was just trying to defend my life."
In a text message Wednesday evening, Kim credited Cha with ending the assault.
"They told me they were going to kill me. That's when my friend Joseph Cha arrived and saved my life. He chased and scared the aggressors away," Kim wrote.
In a text message to NBC News, Cha said he "deescalated the situation" by chasing away the two suspects.
"I believe what Denny went through, no one should go through in any community, not just the Asian community," Cha said.
State Assembly member Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles condemned the incident in a statement posted to Twitter.
"Enough is enough and we cannot be bystanders," Santiago wrote. "We must step up to support our AAPI neighbors!"