IT has been over a month since an elderly Filipino American man lost his only source of income when he was carjacked at gunpoint in Oakland, California, but his family is still searching for answers.
Sara Guillermo, a niece of the unnamed victim, recently spoke to the Asian Journal and said the police still haven’t found her uncle’s vehicle.
“They still haven’t found his car,” she said. “I spoke with someone…to see if we could get the car on the news and the main area to see if there were any leads that we could get. The police have not found the car or the suspect.”
On April 8, the 65-year-old Lyft driver was violently attacked in broad daylight outside an Oakland FoodMaxx grocery store, as previously reported by the Asian Journal.
He was reportedly hit over the head with a gun by the suspect when he tried to put up a fight for his vehicle. Later, his body was “dragged in the parking lot” when the suspect took off with the stolen car.
The Fil-Am victim was sent to Highland Hospital, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
According to Guillermo, the footage at the FoodMaxx grocery store showed that the suspect had an accomplice.
“They did see on the footage at FoodMaxx that was released to them — to the police, not to the family — that the video…showed that the person that did the assault and did the carjacking had an accomplice,” she told the Asian Journal.
“And the accomplice actually followed my uncle’s car out of the parking lot, as well. And they were seen on…[the] CCTV on the freeway,” she added.
When asked what could bring the victim and his family peace in this situation, Guillermo said helping them get the vehicle back is the first step.
“I think trauma’s trauma, and that’s gonna live with you and that’s going to transpire in a whole host of ways. I mean, I think getting the car back is the big consolation,” she said.
Guillermo shared that the incident has heightened the fear of being targeted among her family, pushing them to be more cautious whenever they go outside.
“My mom is in her mid-50s and she’s like, you can’t go anywhere. I went to the doctor’s office and she made sure that I had an umbrella in my back seat because that is what people are talking about. And she has a lot of sisters, and my brother, and that’s what they were talking about and making sure how do we stay safe in that way?” she said, adding that “the fear is real.”
She urged people to take bystander training so they can respond and step in when they witness a crime happening.
“There [were] two phenomenal nurses that actually were able to help [my uncle] up and help call the ambulance and the police for him,” Guillermo said.
However, she pointed out that the nurses “didn’t come in” until after the carjacking incident.
“I don’t know obviously where they were, what they were doing, but you have to imagine that this is a shopping center, parking lot in broad daylight…you have a community member who is being dragged by a vehicle and you do nothing,” Guillermo said.
“And so I’m hoping that people take more bystander training. I hope people understand what it means to be a bystander, but I think that there is a larger narrative of like, what does it mean to actually step in, in a time where somebody’s life is completely at risk? What does it mean to care for your community members?” she added.
Guillermo also highlighted the importance of having conversations as members of the Asian American community.
“I think that there is a piece of like, how can we have these conversations as community members, as family members, and how do we figure out — like what are we teaching our kids? I always think about that. Let’s start at home because we can all make a change at home,” she said.
She cited New York Rep. Grace Meng’s legislation, which seeks to address the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States.
“[Meng] has that phenomenal piece of legislation around hate crimes that people can learn about…talk to their community members to advocate on, and see how they can push that forward,” added Guillermo.
Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition that tracks hate and discrimination, reported that from March 19, 2020 to March 31, 2021, it has received 6,603 incidents of racism and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).
Of the total number, 2,410 hate incidents occurred in the first three months of 2021. (Ritchel Mendiola/AJPress)