A Seattle man was charged with a hate crime for allegedly targeting several men of Korean descent on a downtown street, striking them and shouting “I hate Chinese,” authorities said Thursday.
The incident happened on Christmas night when Aaron Charles Rowe, 30, came up to four men near the Pacific Place shopping center in the Emerald City, police said.
The men, visiting from California, Missouri and Korea, were worried about an “aggressive man who began following them,” before “they took refuge in” a movie theater, according to a probable cause statement written by police.
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When the men left that theater, the “ranting and raving” Rowe continued following them, screaming “I hate Chinese,” and “F—ing Chinese,” Seattle police Det. Patrick Michaud told NBC News.
Rowe then struck Sangpill Lee from behind before he got into the face of Chuhao Jia and “tapped” him “in the face with the back of his hand,” according to the police statement.
Also that evening, Rowe took two umbrellas from the valet area of the nearby Hyatt Hotel and used them to damage windows of that building, police said.
Rowe was booked on three criminal counts — malicious mischief, malicious harassment and a hate crime, according to King County Jail records. He was being held in lieu of $15,000 bail.
It wasn’t clear Thursday morning if he had hired an attorney yet.
Rowe has a long string of previous arrests, according to jail records, having been accused of malicious mischief, property damage, assault and harassment in previous incidents, jail records showed.
His last known address was a homeless shelter in Seattle, according to police.
“Visitors to Seattle deserve to feel safe in the heart of our city,” according to a statement from the Downtown Seattle Association. “With a string of recent arrests, it’s clear this individual isn’t getting the help he needs. We need to fix a system that is failing both the community and the repeat offender.”