Was the Brutal Murder of an 84-Year-Old Man Due to Racism?

3 mins read

A brutal attack resulted in the death of an 84-year-old San Francisco man whose family said their beloved member was attacked due to the senior citizen’s Asian background.

While the family expressed their grief in the possible cause of the crime, District Attorney Chesa Boudin released a statement promising to “hold the person who committed this senseless violence accountable.”

Brutal Attack

In the Anza Vista neighborhood, the horrific murder of Vicha Ratanapakdee was caught on video by a neighbor’s surveillance camera and shared for the public to see.

At around 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, the attacker, later identified by police as 19-year-old Antoine Watson, barreled through the streets of the quiet residential neighborhood, slamming the poor victim, sending him to the ground.

Two days later, at the San Francisco General Hospital, Ratanpakdee died. On social media, the alarming broad daylight incident got a lot of attention, hitting a nerve on Asian American community members in the Bay Area and beyond.

“If you see the video, there’s nothing non-intentional about it. For him to come from all the way across the street, what else could have motivated him?” Eric Lawson, the victim’s step-son, said.

Both Lawson and his wife, Kim Ratanapakdee, the daughter of the victim, suspect that the attacker killed their father because he was an Asian senior. After the coronavirus pandemic interrupted everyday daily lives last year, Kim said she had been a victim of several anti-Asian verbal assaults.

“I don’t know what was going on. I don’t know why he’s attacking an old man,” Kim said after watching video footage of the brutal attack.

On Monday, the family met with investigators while continuing to process their sorrow, praying for justice. Ratanapakdee was from native Thailand before living with his children in San Francisco. His children described him as a “gentle person who loved his family.”

“It hasn’t settled in totally for me yet. I go back and forth from anger to crying right after that. It just doesn’t seem real. It just doesn’t seem real,” said Lawson.

After authorities presented the case on Monday, the district attorney’s office has until Tuesday to file charges against the alleged suspects. On Saturday, police caught Watson and another suspect, 20-year-old Maylasia Goo, at a house in Daly City.

In the San Francisco Jail, Watson was facing charges of suspicion of murder and elder abuse. And Goo was arrested and charged for suspicion of being an accessory, KTVU reported.

“I send my deepest condolences to the Ratanapakdee family for their loss. This was a brutal, random, unprovoked attack. My heart is also with the entire AAPI community for the pain they’re experiencing as a result of this tragedy and too many others over the past year,” Boudin said.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.