A 22-year-old Korean national with no address in Los Angeles has been charged with attempted murder and a hate crime enhancement in a hammer attack on woman in Koreatown, police said Thursday.
The 24-year-old victim was also Korean, according to Los Angeles Police Department Capt. David Kowalski. She was targeted because she was female and Korean, the captain said.
The suspect, Jae Won Yang, was charged Tuesday, police announced at an afternoon news conference. He has been arraigned, Kowalski said.
Yang was arrested immediately after the attack, which occurred about 6 p.m. March 10 in front a business in the 1000 block of South Vermont Avenue. He is being held on $1.075 million bail.
The request from police to prosecutors for a hate-crime enhancement was “based on his intent to target someone based on, what we believed was her race, and/or, as well, her being a female,” Kowalski said.
The victim, who did not know the attacker, was hospitalized with serious injuries. She has been released.
The attacker approached her, asked in Korean if she was Korean, and then walked away, the captain said. He returned with a hammer and, without a word, began to strike her on the head.
He hit her several times. A security guard and another citizen came to her aid and the attack stop.
Yang dropped the hammer and was held until police arrived, the captain said.
The attack was captured on surveillance video. A witness told KTLA the woman was struck more than 20 times.
Police have contacted the South Korean consulate about the case. Yang was “fairly new to the United States,” Kowalski said. Police have classified him as “homeless” and lacking a Los Angeles address, but Kowalski said police did not think he had been living on the streets.
In interviews with investigators, Yang said he had targeted the victim because she was a woman and she was Korean, the captain said.
The crime was an isolated incident, Kowalski said.