SAN FRANCISCO—Antoine Watson, 19, who was arrested on January 30 for the deadly assault on an elderly man, 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee, was held without bail after a court hearing on Monday, February 8. Watson can be seen running up to Ratanapakdee and violently shoving him in video from SF CBS Local near the corner of Fortuna and Anza Vista.
The assault occurred when Ratanapakdee was on what one family member called his “routine morning walk,” in the description of a GoFundMe campaign aimed at raising money for the victim’s funeral.
Charges filed against Watson include murder and elder abuse according to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. “This was a horrific, senseless attack, and I send my deepest condolences to the Ratanapakdee family for this unthinkable pain,” said District Attorney Chesa Boudin. “My heart goes out to the entire AAPI community for the harm and fear this tragedy has inflicted.”
“These horrific crimes cause seniors and all of us to feel unsafe,” he added. “Violent crimes are my top priority. We will hold the people who committed these crimes accountable: we will prosecute them for murder.”
The San Francisco Police Department responded to the report of an assault at 9:30 a.m. Ratanapakdee came from Thailand to the United States to care for his grandchildren according to his family members who contributed to the online campaign and spoke with KPIX 5.
On February 1, Ratanapakdee’s family confirmed his death after he succumbed to injuries at 6:07 a.m. on January 30 while being treated at San Francisco General Hospital.
Watson and his associate, 20-year-old Malaysia Goo, both of Daly City, were arrested without incident on 500 Lisbon Street in Daly City.
Watson was transported to the San Francisco County Jail and booked on one count of murder and Goo was booked on account of being an accessory after the fact, which under California Penal Code 32, a California statute, makes it a crime to harbor, conceal, or aid a suspect in with the intent that said suspect, may avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment.
When Ratanapakdee’s son-in-law was asked about his opinion in the incident, he said, “This guy should not be let on the street. He should be charged with murder. If you see the video there’s nothing non-intentional about it.”
Ratanapakdee’s family is currently raising funds for a funeral service. On the GoFundMe page, Lawson said Ratanapakdee was nearly blind and that he was a “gentle man.”
His daughter expressed grief over the death of her father online stating:
“There are no words we can describe how our family feels in this overwhelming loss. Our father going out for his morning walk after his daily routine of preparing his young grandsons for their day, and after just surviving his recent heart surgery, and then never coming back to our family ever again.”
Lawson told KPIX 5 he believes his father-in-law was targeted in a racially-motivated attack in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and racism in the United States against people of East Asian appearance.
“When people saw me, because I’m Asian they blame me; [they think] that I bring the COVID to this country,” said Lawson.
According to the GoFundMe page, he said this was part of a trend of racial attacks he experienced over the course of the pandemic. “Our family has endured multiple verbal Anti-Asian attacks since the beginning of the pandemic…this time it was fatal.”
San Francisco CPA, Chen, who works as a tax accountant serving clients from small business owners to CEO’s of tech companies, told the San Francisco News on February 8, that it was a trend for Asians to be targeted in attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oakland Chinatown community members held a demonstration in February in response to a series of attacks on Asians in the city. One attack, as CBS SF reported involved a 71-year-old grandmother of East Asian background who was assaulted by two suspects who snatched her purse and fled by car and was captured on camera.
Lawson concluded the description of his GoFundMe campaign with an expression of gratitude to the healthcare workers at San Francisco General Hospital who worked to save his father-in-law’s life, the SFPD officers for their duties in arresting and detaining the suspect, and the community members who contributed to the campaign stating:
“We are so very thankful to the medical doctors at General hospital who tried to save his life, and to the San Francisco Police officers who have done all in their power to help us in this unimaginable painful time, and in their work to capture the person who did this. And to everyone who is outpouring in their support of our family in this memorial legacy fund, our family is forever grateful.”
As of February 10, the campaign raised $60,966 of a $10,000 goal. Donations were within minutes of one another.