Asian Woman Punched Multiple Times, Phone Stolen in Attack on San Francisco Train

An Asian woman was punched in the face and left phoneless during her morning commute on a San Francisco subway earlier this week.

The attack occurred Tuesday around 8 a.m. local time on a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train heading north between 16th Street and Civic Center, which houses many of the city's largest government buildings and cultural organizations.

BART Police told Newsweek that a suspect approached the female victim and demanded her cellphone. When she refused, the attacker struck her multiple times with their hands.

Responding officers searched the train and surrounding area, but didn't find the suspect.

Authorities are pursuing "some promising leads," the police said, but are not investigating the case as a hate crime.

ABC7 identified the victim as Mantakarn Seenin, a 34-year-old immigrant from Thailand. Seenin, who has been in the United States for eight years, was on her way to work at a restaurant in Chinatown when the attack occurred.

"He just started punching me so many times," Seenin said in the exclusive interview. "Like hit me. Just punching me on my face."

Dion Lim, an anchor and reporter at ABC7, shared photographs of Seenin after the incident. Lim also wrote in the post that her attacker said, "give me your phone b**ch!"

Mantakarn was on BART heading to work at a restaurant in Chinatown this morning when a man said “give me your phone b**ch!” & was punched in the face and robbed of her cell phone. This happened between the 16th St. and Civic Center stations. #StopAsianHate #AAPI

— Dion Lim (@DionLimTV) May 19, 2021

When the subway approached the next stop, the attacker got off and two witnesses came to Seenin's aid. They called the police and waited with her until they arrived.

Hate-fueled crimes against the Asian community have increased in the last year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Attacks spiked 150 percent in major U.S. cities, according to data compiled by California State University's Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

Seenin said since the increase in violence, she's taken extra precautions during her commute to work. She uses a nondescript purse, carries pepper spray, and even puts her hair into a bun to look more like a man.

"I try to be safe so nobody will pay attention to me. I don't have anything fancy on myself, but it still happened," she said.

She told ABC7 that her attacker cursed at her but didn't hurl any racial slurs. She said she thought because she's a "small Asian girl," maybe her attacker thought it would be easy to steal something from her.

A community organizer, Max Leung, first told KRON4 that a man punched the victim several times and stole her phone. The victim shared pictures of her injuries with Leung.

"The relationship between the Asian and African American community—there definitely needs to be a lot of healing and communication, and intentional work towards solidarity and unity," Leung said.

Asian Woman Attacked San Francisco BART train
The platform at the Daly City Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station is deserted on April 8, 2020 in Daly City, California. An Asian woman was attacked earlier this week during her commute on a BART train. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images