Story of attack on 83-year-old Korean woman went viral. But police say there's no evidence it was racially motivated

An 83-year-old Korean woman was assaulted in Koreatown on Wednesday afternoon in an attack that became the subject of a viral social media post, which said the assailant had yelled “white power” before fleeing.

But none of the witnesses to the assault told investigators that they heard the suspect, who is now in custody, make racial remarks, said Sgt. Randy Espinoza of the Los Angeles Police Department. The attack is not being investigated as a hate crime, he said.

Officers were called to the corner of Western Avenue and Council Street around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday on a report of a battery. A witness told officers that the suspect punched the elderly woman in the back of her head, causing her to fall to the ground, according to Espinoza.

Seng Vongphrachanh, a Koreatown resident who arrived at the scene immediately after the assault but didn’t see the attack, said he and another man chased the alleged assailant. The woman, who seemed “out of it,” repeatedly yelled “power is power” and the N-word, he told The Times. Vongphrachanh said he gave detectives the same account.  

The victim suffered a one-inch cut to her left cheek as a result of the fall and had pain in her knee, Espinoza said. Police said it was not immediately clear what motivated the attack. 

The suspect, 27, was booked on suspicion of battery and was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail. She gave her name as Patty Garcia, but fingerprints identified her as Alexis Duvall, Espinoza said.

The sergeant said the suspect appeared to be under the influence or mentally ill, and said she was homeless. She yelled obscenities at officers as she was being booked at the LAPD’s Olympic Station, Espinoza said.

In a post that was shared by thousands Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, Facebook user Linda Lee said she was a friend of a witness and wrote that the assailant yelled “white power” and ran off.

The post, which was made private Thursday afternoon, was accompanied by a photo of the victim being treated for injuries on her face, next to a blood-splattered sidewalk. 

The victim told investigators through a translator that she was caught off guard and didn’t know what hit her.

victoria.kim@latimes.com

For more California news, follow me on Twitter @vicjkim

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UPDATES:

6:20 p.m.: This story was updated to include the account of a Koreatown resident who witnessed the aftermath of the attack, and new information about the suspect.

This story was originally published at 5 p.m.

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