News

Man charged with hate crimes, robberies against South Asian women

East Palo Alto resident allegedly targeted 14 women and robbed them of necklaces

Lathan Johnson is facing hate crime charges for allegedly attacking 14 South Asian women over two months, tearing off their necklaces and speeding away in a car. Stock photo courtesy Getty Images.

An East Palo Alto man who allegedly ripped the necklaces from the necks of 14 South Asian women has been charged with robbery and hate crimes, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said in a statement on Monday, Oct. 3.

Lathan Johnson, 37, allegedly attacked the women over two months, tearing the necklaces from the victims and speeding away in a car. In several of the robberies, he injured the women, who ranged in age from 50-73. The estimated worth of all the stolen necklaces is about $35,000, the DA's office stated.

The spree began in June. During the following weeks, South Asian women – almost always wearing a sari, bindi or other type of ethnic attire – were targeted in San Jose, Milpitas, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara.

In one case, the victim was walking with her husband down a Milpitas street when Johnson allegedly approached and asked for directions. According to the DA's Office, he then walked behind the couple, pushed the woman to the ground, punched her husband in the face and then pushed him to the ground. He allegedly ripped a $1,000 necklace from the woman’s neck in that incident.

The woman suffered a broken wrist; her husband was treated for a possible broken nose.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

The Santa Clara Police Department and the U.S. Marshal’s Office apprehended Johnson, but the Milpitas Police Department was the first agency to tie him to the crimes, allegedly connecting him to a getaway car.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said he will pursue convictions of anyone who attacks people on the basis of their race or ethnicity.

"I say to our South Asian community that anyone who targets and attacks you will be arrested and treated with the utmost severity under our law. Santa Clara County’s precious diversity is our strength, our superpower – not a criminal opportunity,” Rosen said in the press statement.

Johnson will be arraigned on the hate crime charges Tuesday at 9 a.m. in San Jose. He faces prison time, if convicted. The DA and South Asian community leaders will attend the hearing.

Late last year, the Santa Clara DA’s Office charged a group of men with hate crimes and robbery for targeting Asian women during a purse-snatching spree. Those cases are pending.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Sue Dremann
 
Sue Dremann is a veteran journalist who joined the Palo Alto Weekly in 2001. She is a breaking news and general assignment reporter who also covers the regional environmental, health and crime beats. Read more >>

Follow Mountain View Voice Online on Twitter @mvvoice, Facebook and on Instagram @mvvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Get uninterrupted access to important local crime news. Become a member today.

Man charged with hate crimes, robberies against South Asian women

East Palo Alto resident allegedly targeted 14 women and robbed them of necklaces

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Oct 3, 2022, 12:27 pm

An East Palo Alto man who allegedly ripped the necklaces from the necks of 14 South Asian women has been charged with robbery and hate crimes, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said in a statement on Monday, Oct. 3.

Lathan Johnson, 37, allegedly attacked the women over two months, tearing the necklaces from the victims and speeding away in a car. In several of the robberies, he injured the women, who ranged in age from 50-73. The estimated worth of all the stolen necklaces is about $35,000, the DA's office stated.

The spree began in June. During the following weeks, South Asian women – almost always wearing a sari, bindi or other type of ethnic attire – were targeted in San Jose, Milpitas, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara.

In one case, the victim was walking with her husband down a Milpitas street when Johnson allegedly approached and asked for directions. According to the DA's Office, he then walked behind the couple, pushed the woman to the ground, punched her husband in the face and then pushed him to the ground. He allegedly ripped a $1,000 necklace from the woman’s neck in that incident.

The woman suffered a broken wrist; her husband was treated for a possible broken nose.

The Santa Clara Police Department and the U.S. Marshal’s Office apprehended Johnson, but the Milpitas Police Department was the first agency to tie him to the crimes, allegedly connecting him to a getaway car.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said he will pursue convictions of anyone who attacks people on the basis of their race or ethnicity.

"I say to our South Asian community that anyone who targets and attacks you will be arrested and treated with the utmost severity under our law. Santa Clara County’s precious diversity is our strength, our superpower – not a criminal opportunity,” Rosen said in the press statement.

Johnson will be arraigned on the hate crime charges Tuesday at 9 a.m. in San Jose. He faces prison time, if convicted. The DA and South Asian community leaders will attend the hearing.

Late last year, the Santa Clara DA’s Office charged a group of men with hate crimes and robbery for targeting Asian women during a purse-snatching spree. Those cases are pending.

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.