SAN JOSE – A Peninsula man has been arrested and is facing hate crime and robbery charges after he allegedly attacked more than a dozen women of South Asian descent and stole their necklaces, prosecutors said.
According to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, the suspect victimized at least 14 women during a two month crime spree that began in June.
"I say to our South Asian community that anyone who targets and attacks you will be arrested and treated with the utmost severity under our law," District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement on Monday. "Santa Clara County's precious diversity is our strength, our superpower – not a criminal opportunity."
Prosecutors said the robberies took place in communities throughout the South Bay, including Milpitas, San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale. Nearly all of the victims were wearing a sari, bindi or other types of ethnic attire when they were attacked.
The victims ranged in age from ages 50-73. Prosecutors estimated the value of the stolen necklaces at $35,000.
In one of the incidents, prosecutors said a victim was walking with her husband down a street in Milpitas when the suspect approached and asked for directions. The suspect then pushed the woman to the ground, punched her husband and pushed him to the ground before ripping a $1,000 necklace of the woman's neck.
The woman suffered a broken wrist and her husband was treated for a possible broken nose, according to the DA's office.
After Milpitas Police tied the suspect to a getaway car, police in Santa Clara along with U.S. Marshals arrested the suspect, identified as 37-year-old Lathan Johnson of East Palo Alto.
Johnson is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday morning at the Hall of Justice in San Jose. He faces prison time if convicted.
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