CHARLOTTE, N.C. – An Asian-owned convenience store in Charlotte, North Carolina, was ransacked Tuesday by a pole-wielding man yelling racial slurs, and the entire incident was caught on surveillance video.
Mark Sung, the son of Plaza Sundries’ owners, told WSOC that there is no doubt in his family’s minds that the business was targeted because of their South Korean roots.
Video from the store’s surveillance camera shows a man, later identified as 24-year-old Xavier Rashee Woody-Silas, walk into the store, topple a merchandise rack and begin smashing shelves and drink machines with a street sign post while another man appears to cheer him on, The Associated Press reported.
Sung told WSOC that he believes a man his family banned from their store, located inside the Charlotte Transportation Center near the city’s main transit hub, hired Woody-Silas to trash the store as payback.
“As (Woody-Silas) was doing it, he was like saying racial slurs, cursing at us, threatening us. And the guy that we banned ended up coming into the store cheering him on and screaming, ‘That’s what you get! That’s what you get! Go back to your country!’” Sung said.
Sung’s parents have operated the store for about 20 years, he said.
Woody-Silas has been charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, communicating threats, disorderly conduct, injury to personal property and resisting a public officer, according to public records.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is also pursuing a potential hate crime charge of misdemeanor ethnic intimidation, WSOC reported.
The North Carolina attack follows a brutal daylight beating of an elderly woman of Asian descent on a Manhattan sidewalk, the fatal shootings of eight people at three Atlanta-area spas – six of whom were women of Asian descent – and a slew of attacks on elderly people of Asian descent in the San Francisco Bay Area, including one 76-year-old woman who successfully fought off her attacker.
And although racially motivated attacks against Plaza Sundries have been fairly routine throughout the family’s two decades in business, the owners’ daughter-in-law, Grace Lee Sung, told the AP that sentiments since the attack have been helpful and neighborly.
For instance, a pizza deliveryman showed up with five pies; a doctor hand-delivered a check; a woman showed up bearing soup; and an online fundraiser has collected nearly $40,000 to help the family cover the store’s damage, the outlet reported.
“My in-laws are more shocked that people actually care than they were about the (attack), and it took them a while to process why they were getting so much attention.” Grace Lee Sung told the AP.
Hate crimes nationally against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have increased 150% during the pandemic, according to a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
“My mother-in-law can’t stop crying every time someone says, ‘I’m so sorry for what you’re going through.’ It’s just a reminder that — Wow, things are not supposed to be this way.” Lee Sung added.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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