SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Police in San Francisco on Wednesday confirmed the arrest of a suspect who assaulted multiple Asian victims near the Polk Gulch neighborhood Monday morning.
According to an SFPD release, on Monday shortly before 8 a.m., officers responded to the area of Polk and Clay Streets after a report of a person attacking people. Arriving officers found three Asian victims who reported that the male suspect physically attacked them.
One of the victims told police that the incident began when they saw the suspect following two unknown Asian females. When the females ran away from the suspect, he threw an unknown object at them, striking one of the women in the back as they were fleeing. The two women left the scene and it was not known if the attack caused any injuries.
The victim said the suspect then turned his attention on them, uttering threats of violence as he approached. The victim pepper sprayed the suspect out of fear for his safety. The suspect proceeded to grab a broom stick and approached the first victim again, still utter threats of violence. The first victim used his pepper spray a second time, fended off the suspect. The victim did not sustain any injuries during the confrontation.
The suspect then approached a second victim, who police said was homeless. That victim told officers he was laying on the sidewalk when the suspect assaulted him without provocation. A third victim saw the attack on the homeless man and intervened, but was also assaulted by the suspect with the broom stick.
Both of those victims sustained non-life-threatening injuries and were treated by medics at the scene, according to the SFPD.
Police were able to locate and detain a subject who matched the descriptions provided by the victims. The subject was identified as the attacker at the scene and officers developed probable cause to arrest him.
The suspect was identified as 43-year-old Michael Lopez. During the arrest, police found suspected methamphetamines and drug paraphernalia in Lopez's possession. He was transported and booked at San Francisco County Jail for assault with a deadly weapon and assault and battery with a hate crime enhancement as well as possession of suspected methamphetamines and narcotic paraphernalia.
Police believe the multiple assaults were unprovoked. Though the victims said that no hate speech was uttered, investigators are working to determine if racial bias was a motivating factor in the assault.
Authorities are seeking the public's help identifying the two female victims who Lopez initially attacked at Polk and Clay Streets so investigators can speak with them.
While Lopez has been arrested for the assaults, police said this remains an open investigation. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the SFPD Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. Tipsters may remain anonymous.
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