Female Thai student attacked on San Francisco bus

By VOA Thai

A FEMALE Thai student who was travelling home on a San Francisco bus earlier this month was punched twice by a man of Latin American appearance who then quickly escaped, VOA Thai said.

Ms. Rujira Umboon, 31, told VOA reporters that she was seated on bus number 14 on Dec. 11 evening when this man came and sat right next to her even though there were not many passengers and few other empty seats available.

The assailant took the opportunity when the bus got close to a stop to punch her twice in the left ear and quickly got off the vehicle.

The bus driver came to help, called an emergency ambulance and immediately notified the police.

Rujira said she was in a state of shock and was immediately rushed to the hospital. The doctor found that there was an impact on the inner ear layer. He found a tear there which may affect her hearing in future.

Rujira believes this is a hate crime against Asians because she was the only person of Asian descent on the bus.

“Why does this kind of thing have to happen to us? Does it only happen to us just because we are Asians? I think it’s not okay and is unavoidable. Where public transport is concerned, try to stay in the safest place, such as sitting as close to the driver as possible,” Rujira told VOA.

In January 2021 Mr. Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai American man, died after being forcefully pushed to the ground in a daylight attack in San Francisco. 

Two days after the assault, Antoine Watson, a 19-year-old African American from Daly City, California, was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse and murder. Watson pleaded not guilty.

Malaysia Goo, a 20-year-old woman from Daly City, was also arrested as an accessory after the fact.

After the incident, Rujira contacted Mr. Eric Parnes, an American lawyer who had handled the case of aspiring Thai model Ms. Bew Jirajariyawetch who was assaulted, molested and robbed on a subway platform in New York City last December.

Parnes said he is waiting for CCTV footage from San Francisco police after having asked them to arrest the perpetrator as soon as possible because the CCTV footage would clearly record all events. 

Parnes said if this attack is publicised on local and Thai media it will speed up litigation.

Mr. Panot Kiatkong, the Thai consul general in Los Angeles, said that he had contacted Ruchira to offer help in various fields including coordinating with Ms. Wanda Prathomrit, a Thai-descent social psychologist at the Asian Pacific Counseling and Treatment Centers or APCTC, to assess the initial psychological impact.

Local media reports said that assaults on San Francisco’s Muni buses have increased 43% since 2020. Police reports show that crime against Asians in San Francisco rose by more than 567% in 2021, with one of the most horrific incidents being the attack on 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee.


Top and Front Page: A Thai student in San Francisco, Rujira Amboon, is pictured with her left ear injury after getting attacked on the San Francisco bus on Dec 11, 2022. 

Insert: A San Francisco Muni bus. Both photos: VOA

Also read: ‘Alarming surge’ in anti-Asian violence across US terrifies community members

Author Salman Rushdie attacked on lecture stage in New York


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