San Luis Obispo police are searching for a suspect accused of assaulting a couple and yelling racial slurs at them in an apparent hate crime on Monday evening.
“The suspect has not yet been identified,” said Capt. Brian Amoroso, a Luis Obispo Police Department spokesman. “We are reviewing some nearby video in hopes of identifying the suspect.”
Police received a report at about 6 p.m. Monday of an assault that occurred near the intersection of High and Santa Barbara streets in San Luis Obispo, according to an agency news release.
The victims — identified in the release as an Asian man and a Caucasian woman — told police that a man began yelling racial slurs at the male as the couple walked their dog.
The suspect then allegedly approached the couple and assaulted the woman after she took out her phone to call the police, according to the release.
Police say several people who were at Miner’s Ace Hardware nearby came out to assist the couple, and the male victim attempted to pursue the suspect on foot.
The suspect attempted to assault the male victim and then immediately fled the scene, police said.
Police are asking for the community’s assistance in identifying the suspect, who is described as a Caucasian male with short dark blonde hair, between the ages of 35 and 45, standing about 6 feet tall and weighing 170 to 200 pounds, according to the release.
At the time of the assault, he was wearing a tan polo shirt, tan shorts and running shoes, police said.
“The San Luis Obispo Police Department does not tolerate hate of any kind and we are committed to investigating all acts of violence,” the agency said in the release. “Crimes motivated by hate are not just attacks on innocent people — they are attacks on our entire community.”
According to the release, the department is conducting an in-depth investigation into the incident.
Anyone with information about this investigation is encouraged to contact the department at 805-781-7142.
The department also says anyone “experiencing hate, based on disability; religion; gender; sexual orientation; sexual identity; nationality, race or ethnicity” can contact the San Luis Obispo Police Department non-emergency number at 805-781-7312 to report a hate crime.
Nextdoor post details alleged attack
Soon after the incident, a man identifying himself as part of the couple who had been attacked took to the social media app Nextdoor to share information about what happened.
“He yelled several racist slurs at me, and after my wife said ‘Excuse me?’ he walked up to us and continued to cuss at me (I am Asian),” the post read. “I responded by telling my wife to call the police and as my wife began to take out her phone, he lunged at her and punched her in the left eye.”
Some men came out from Miner’s Ace Hardware to help, and the suspect “immediately started to back away, heading towards Santa Barbara Avenue,” the man wrote.
“I went after him, (but) still being tethered to our (Labrador retriever), I wasn’t able to move very quickly (I wasn’t thinking and kept the leash strapped to my arm),” the man wrote. “He then turned around and took another couple of swings at me. I was able to dodge out of the way. He also tried to kick my dog.”
With his dog “freaking out,” the man wrote, he didn’t want to move any further. He said the suspect bolted across Santa Barbara Avenue and out of sight.
The man asked community members for help identifying the suspect based on the “dark blurry video of his backside” he captured.