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Asian American man beaten with own cane at Rosemead bus stop in ‘violent, random crime’

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has finished its investigation into the attack of an Asian American man at a bus stop in Rosemead this month and has filed a case for consideration with the district attorney’s office, authorities said Monday.

The assault occurred near Rosemead Boulevard and Marshall Street on Feb. 7, after a man walked up to Matthew Leung, who was waiting for a bus, and struck up a conversation, Sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Lewis said. The man then attacked the 51-year-old elementary school teacher’s aide with Leung’s own cane, striking him multiple times in the head and the hand, Lewis said.

Leung lost the tip of a finger in the attack, Lewis said, after putting his hand up to shield himself from being hit with the cane.

Detectives took a man into custody on an unrelated disturbance at a Rosemead business the next day, Lewis said. During that investigation, they determined that the 25-year-old man, who has not been identified by police, was “the suspect in the assault and subsequent mayhem of the individual the day before.”

“It’s up to the D.A. for filing,” Lewis said.

The assault does not appear to be race-related, he added, and detectives do not think it was a hate crime. But the assault comes amid a string of attacks on Asian Americans, many of them against people who are elderly or otherwise vulnerable. Oakland’s Chinatown has been the scene of a series of attacks and thefts that have left the community on edge.

“There are just bad people in this world,” Lewis said. “Sadly, this just appears to be a very violent, random crime.”

Tracy Wong makes a statement while attending a “Rally Against Anti-Asian Hate Crimes & Racism” to raise awareness of anti-Asian violence at Los Angeles State Historic Park.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Mariana Hernandez, a kindergarten teacher at Gates Street Elementary School, where Leung works as Hernandez’s teaching assistant, said that Leung had gone grocery shopping in Rosemead and was waiting at a bus stop when a man rode up on a bicycle and asked Leung whether the bus had already passed.

Leung asked which number, Hernandez said, and then told the man that the bus had already gone. Suddenly, the man grabbed Leung’s cane and began beating him with it, she said. The middle finger of Leung’s left hand was so badly damaged that doctors had to remove a portion of it. He also suffered a deep gash to his head and was left with black eyes, she said.

When Hernandez asked Leung whether his wallet or backpack had been stolen, “He said, ‘No. He just hurt me,’” she said. The next day, detectives came to Leung’s home and showed photographs of potential suspects in the attack. Leung recognized none of the men but helped the detectives with a sketch of his assailant’s face, Hernandez said.

Leung has worked at Gates Street Elementary for 25 years, often translating for Asian parents who don’t speak English.

“He has no ill in his heart, no evil in his heart,” Hernandez said.

A GoFundMe page set up for Leung’s recovery has raised about $60,000 — almost double the original $35,000 goal.

Leung returned to his kindergarten class via Zoom last week, according to the GoFundMe page.

“They were so excited to see him and they were showering him with many happy greetings and ‘I miss you’s,’” an update on the page said. “He was overwhelmed and his eyes were tearing up. He choked up and couldn’t even speak.”

The update noted that Leung is “recovering quickly” and his stitches had been removed, but that he still has difficulty moving his injured hand.




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