(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A San Francisco man was arrested Tuesday after he allegedly stabbed two Asian American women in broad daylight, police said.
The 55-year-old man is suspected of attacking the women in downtown San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon before fleeing the scene, according to San Francisco Police Department spokesperson Robert Rueca. He was located and arrested about a mile from the scene on Tuesday evening. Charges were still pending and a motive for the stabbings was under investigation, Rueca said.
The names of the suspect and the victims have not been released.
San Francisco resident Patricia Lee, who was working at a nearby flower stand at the time, said she saw the knife-wielding man approach the women at a bus stop. She said the blade was "pretty big" and appeared to be a military-style knife.
"Her back was turned and all I see is the feathers came out of her jacket, so I'm very sure that she got sliced," Lee told San Francisco ABC station KGO-TV in an interview Tuesday. "It could have been me instead."
After stabbing the women, whom she described as elderly, Lee said the man "walked away like nothing happened."
The incident occurred in the district represented by Matt Haney, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, who took to Twitter to condemn the attack as "disgusting and horrific." Haney said both women were hospitalized for their injuries and were in "stable" condition as of Tuesday night. One of them, an 85-year-old, required surgery. Haney said he was reaching out to the victims and their families to offer his support.
"This is something that is happening to Asian people in our community specifically," Haney told KGO in an interview Tuesday. "This is a pattern."
Tuesday's attack was the latest in a spate of violence targeting Asian Americans in cities across the nation. The coronavirus pandemic and its suspected origins in the Chinese city of Wuhan is cited as having led to a fresh onslaught of anti-Asian discrimination in the United States that has waged on for over a year.
From March 19, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021, there were more than 3,795 hate incidents, including verbal harassment and physical assault, against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States that were reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization that tracks such incidents.