Trio Accused of 70 Robberies Face Hate Crime Charges for Targeting Asian Women

Three men face hate crime charges in connection with more than 70 robberies, primarily of Asian women, in the San Francisco Bay Area and San Jose, California, the San Jose Police Department said.

Anthony Michael Robinson of Stockton, California, Derje Damond Blanks of San Jose and Cameron Alonzo Moody of East Palo Alto also face numerous felony robbery charges.

The yearlong investigation led to the arrests of Robinson and Blanks on Sept. 8 and Moody on Sept. 16.

"Beginning in late 2020, the crime spree included robberies and purse snatches that virtually all followed the same pattern: The suspects targeted Asian women, because — evidence shows — the suspects believed that Asian women don't use banks," the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office said.

Hate crimes, California
From left, Anthony Michael Robinson, Derje Damond Blanks and Cameron Alonzo Moody are in custody, charged with felonies related to a robbery spree. Prosecutors added hate crime charges because the victims were mostly Asian or Asian-American women. San Jose Police Department/Zenger

"In some cases, the suspects used ethnic slurs to refer to their victims. The defendants would follow the women in parking lots to their vehicles, wait until the victim was inside her car, and either smash a window or quickly open a door to steal a purse off the passenger seat."

San Jose police called the suspects a "prolific robbery crew that targeted victims of Asian descent."

The crime spree included more than 40 incidents throughout San Jose, San Pablo, Hayward, East Palo Alto, Newark, San Leandro, Fremont, Campbell, Dublin, and Milpitas, Calif., the district attorney said.

During the arrest of Robinson and Blanks, Blanks tried to flee in his car and crashed into an unmarked police vehicle, the district attorney said. "He then fled on foot and Robinson then got into the driver's seat, tried to flee, and crashed into a vehicle, severely injuring a 2-year-old passenger."

Both men were booked in Santa Clara County Jail on more than 70 counts of felony robbery.

Chinatown, San Francisco
People walk by a mural in Chinatown on June 19 in San Francisco. Most of the Bay Area victims of the three men under arrest were described as Asian females. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Moody was arrested in Union City, California, by members of the San Jose Covert Response Unit, the undercover enforcement branch of the Bureau of Investigations. "Two loaded firearms were recovered, one of them a ghost gun [a homemade firearm with no serial number]," police said.

Moody was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on "a multitude of felony robbery charges," police said.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney added hate-crime enhancements to the suspects' charges.

"We are sensitive to the hate aspect targeting Asian females," said San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata. "I commend District Attorney Jeff Rosen for pursuing hate crime enhancements."

"We will hold these defendants and anyone who worked with them fully accountable for their ignorant and destructive behavior," Rosen said.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.