Suspect in murder of elderly Asian man in LA had mental issues that ‘came out of nowhere’, uncle says

·3 min read

A man accused of killing an elderly Asian man in Los Angeles in May had kept to himself before struggling with mental issues, his uncle said.

Keonte Woods, 25, was arrested on May 12 in connection with the fatal stabbing of 70-year-old Dal Lee in the 5300 block of South Main Street a week earlier.

Newton Area patrol officers responded to the incident and found Lee with a stab wound to his neck. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he later died.

Lee, a Korean immigrant, was sitting inside his parked van when the May 5 incident occurred. An investigation revealed that a Black male suspect approached him from behind, stabbed him in the neck and then fled west on foot.

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The suspect, who was captured on surveillance cameras, was later identified as Woods. After his arrest on May 12, he was charged with murder on May 16.

Woods, however, is not only facing a murder count. He was also charged with assault with a deadly weapon for a separate attack on April 30.

That incident involved another Asian victim: a 30-year-old mathematics student from China, according to the Los Angeles Times. The student suffered a minor hand injury after successfully stopping Woods from sticking a sharpened metal hair pin to his neck.

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Lee’s daughter, Cathy, was not informed of the April 30 attack until she went to the courthouse and pulled a copy of the criminal complaint against Woods herself. What she initially thought was a clerical error instead suggested a “pattern of conduct.”

Cathy believes the attack on her father was an anti-Asian hate crime, the Times said. But Woods’ uncle, Travis Jones, attributed his nephew’s actions to mental issues.

Speaking to the news outlet, Jones described Woods as “a quiet person who stayed to himself.” However, Jones said Woods recently began to struggle with mental issues that “came out of nowhere.”

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Friends who recognized Woods in the surveillance images called his family. Jones said his mother then contacted the police “to get him [Woods] help and see what’s going on with him.”

Woods, who is being held on a $2 million bail, is now facing a joint felony case for both attacks. His alleged victims are determined to hold him accountable.

Prosecutors vowed to deliver results. “That we can promise,” L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón told the Times.

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The incident remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Abundis or Detective Pintado, Central Bureau Homicide, at (213) 996-4117. Anonymous tips can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or visit


Featured Image via Los Angeles Police Department