Denver man who harassed two Korean-Americans at an In-N-Out Burger location in San Ramon, Calif., on Christmas Eve — a confrontation filmed in tiktok videos of the victims while they were eating—was arrested by local authorities on Monday on two counts of committing a hate crime.
Jordan Douglas Krach, 40, is no longer in custody, a San Ramon Police Department spokesman said in an email, and it’s unclear if formal charges will be filed. A spokesman for the Contra Costa County District Attorney said the office has not yet received details about the case from the police department.
Arin Kim, a 20-year-old student at UCLA, and her boyfriend Elliott Ha, also 20, a student at Duke University, were home for the holidays and decided to try some off-menu items at In-N-Out on the night of Christmas Eve.
“We were just talking about life,” said Ms. Kim, of Moraga, California. “It was all in good spirits.”
They filmed their reactions and made a TikTok video in the restaurant when Mr Krah approached them and asked if they were recording their meal. They said they were.
“You are queer homosexuals,” Mr Krach replied, the video shows, as a shocked expression spread across Ms Kim’s face.
“I just want to eat my Flying Dutchman in peace,” said Mr. Ha, of Livermore, Calif., referring to an off-menu item consisting of two burger patties topped with slices of cheese.
Moments later, Mr. Kra could be heard asking the two if they were Japanese or Korean.
When Mr Ha answered and said he was Korean, Mr Kra said: “You’re Kim Jong-un’s boyfriend, huh?” referring to the North Korean leader.
The tone of the conversation then appeared to take a sinister turn, with Mr Krach heard on the video describing himself as a “slave master” and using a homophobic slur. He is then heard on video saying he will see the couple outside.
“My alarm was ringing,” Ms. Kim said. “And it was late at night, almost 11pm at this point and it’s completely dark outside. I was just very scared.”
The video shows Ms. Kim and Mr. Ha, both increasingly distressed, trying to separate themselves from the man and continue browsing their food from the In-N-Out menu as Mr. Krah looked on outside the window of the restaurant, according to the caption and description of Ms. Kim’s video.
Chief Denton Carlson of the San Ramon Police Department noticed the video, which went viral online and has been viewed more than 13 million times. He contacted the victims to start an investigation, the police said in a news release.
Police said Mr Kra’s “homophobic and racist remarks” had left the victims concerned for their safety.
The number of hate crimes committed against Asian Americans and reported to police has risen during the pandemic. Stop AAPI Hate, a group formed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic that collects data on hate and harassment faced by the Asian American community, reported more than 10,000 hate incidents in 2020 and 2021. Almost half of the reported events occurred in public places, the report found.
In nearly two dozen major cities, including Los Angeles, Houston and New York, reported anti-Asian hate crimes increased an average of 224 percent from 2020 to 2021, according to a report by the San Bernardino-based Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. The total, 369 hate crimes, is a record, said Brian Levin, a professor at California State University San Bernardino.
This year is on track to “far surpass” pre-pandemic levels of hate crimes committed by Asian Americans, Mr. Levin said.
Mr. Ha and Ms. Kim said they were pressing charges after initially hesitating because they believed the verbal attack would not be taken seriously by the authorities.
“This whole situation seems very surreal to me because I really didn’t think anyone would care,” Ms Kim said, adding that there were “tens and thousands of people” who had faced such hatred, which was not captured on video.
Seeing the outpouring of support from others after the incident helped “restore my faith in my humanity”, Mr Ha said. He and Ms Kim said they hoped others would be prompted to report acts of hate.
It was not clear whether Mr. Krah was represented by a lawyer.
After learning of Mr. Kra’s arrest, Ms. Kim and Mr. Ha returned to the same In-N-Out to eat. Strangers who recognized them from the TikTok video and news articles paid for their order, they said.
“My burger tasted great,” Ms. Kim said.
This time, Mr. Ha stuck to his usual double-double.
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