Hate crimes charged in string of SF robberies; suspect accused of targeting Asian women for months

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The San Francisco District Attorney announced felony charges and hate crime allegations against an individual in connection with seven separate robberies or attempted robberies against Asian women between March and September of this year. The most recent one was just last week, and led police to the suspect.

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The San Francisco District Attorney says police were able to locate O'Sean Garcia after he robbed a woman last week as she was getting out of her car. Her stolen backpack had a laptop, which police tracked.

Garcia has now been linked to six other robberies or attempted robberies dating back to March. All of the victims were Asian women, many monolingual Cantonese-speakers ranging in age from 18 to 61. Some of the women were pulled to the ground or dragged.

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"I'm really appreciative that in this case eventually the police were able to identify a suspect and bring us evidence of what amounts to a string of violent crimes, and I'm pleased that the evidence they brought us is sufficient for us to allege hate crimes here," said San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

Harlan Wong with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce is the Chinese New Year Festival and Parade Director.

"Of course I'm sad to hear that something like this happened, seven crimes like this, but I am encouraged that so many of the crimes are being reported," said Wong.

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Wong says he wants to see people who are responsible for hate crimes held accountable.

"Someone committed a crime multiple times, that person should really be prosecuted and locked up," said Wong.

"We will, in this case, be asking to hold him in jail and I'm hoping the judge will agree with our request," said Boudin.

The District Attorney says COVID-19 has created a backlog for the courts with preliminary hearings and trials being postponed sometimes for months.

"It's been a massive obstacle frankly for me, for the interests of justice, for those awaiting trial in custody or out of custody and of course for the victims," said Boudin.

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The DA recognizes and disputes a perception that cases are not being charged.

"Cases don't just sit with my office, I want to be really clear, when police make an arrest, we have 48 hours from the time of the arrest to make a charging decision," said Boudin.

He says there have been 17 incidents this year where his office filed hate crimes allegations and more than 3,000 new criminal cases filed.

In the meantime, Wong says he tells the AAPI community to be alert of their surroundings, avoid walking at night alone, and to carry their items securely.

"Unfortunately that's the sad reality of our present day lives," said Wong.

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