A Filipino family was threatened and physically attacked at a fast food drive-thru in North Hollywood, California.
Nerissa Roque and her daughter, Patricia, were pulling up to a drive-thru when a Jeep allegedly bumped the back of their car at around 10 p.m. on May 13.
“We immediately went ahead and called 911 and our dad to help us,” Patricia told ABS-CBN. “It transpired more after that. What started out as a minor traffic collision escalated into something more dangerous, and something we never would have expected.”
Patricia said they were threatened by the Jeep driver, who told them they were “so Asian.”
“He said ‘I’ll kill you,’ while mocking with a racist stereotypical accent,” Patricia said.
“I thought he was going to leave but he didn’t,” Nerissa said. “He came back and said mean words about Asians. We didn’t know what to do. We were scared, especially with my daughter there. We needed help, and I called my husband.”
Gabriel Roque, Nerissa’s husband, arrived a few minutes later. The driver allegedly tried to open their car door to get to Patricia, but Gabriel intervened. The man then punched the 60-year-old father to the ground and choked his 47-year old wife when she tried to stop him.
Bystanders reportedly tried to intervene, and the police eventually responded to the scene. Gabriel was brought to a hospital after the attack.
“I broke my rib,” Gabriel told ABS-CBN. “Fifth side of the rib is broken. Even up to now, any slight pressure, if you ask me to lift something, I still couldn’t do it… There are times when it’s hard to pull yourself up.”
“I’m traumatized. It’s different when it happens to your family,” Nerissa said. “What we see on TV, we don’t think it’s going to happen but when it happens to your family, it’s traumatizing. And up to now, the pain… He was supposed to hit me, but I was able to avoid it. Then he hit my chest. The pain is still here, and I remember what he did.”
The attacker was taken into custody by the police, but his identity has not been made public due to a pending investigation, according to the Roque family.
The Roxas Law firm in California stepped in as the family’s pro bono attorneys. They are working to file charges against the suspect.
“We are dealing with a hate crime,” victim rights attorney Adrian Roxas said. “The Roque family were all attacked because of the color of their skin, because of their physical appearance. Once that motivation is fueled by that motivation and there were physical injuries and physical assaults, we are at the level of a hate crime.”