'She punched me on my face': Asian-American pregnant mother attacked in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia police are trying to track down a suspect who attacked an Asian-American woman and her young daughter last week.

While authorities say they currently can't pursue this as an ethnic hate crime, the victim might have a different point of view.

Fearing retaliation, Jing Chen chose not to show her face during an interview with Action News on Wednesday night.

She says she was walking near busy 13th and Walnut streets last week when a woman came out of nowhere and started spraying water at both her and her 12-year-old daughter.

"I asked her, 'Why did you do that?" said Chen.

She turned around and said, "You (expletive), Chinese (expletive)," recalled Chen.

"So, I, as a mom said, 'You too!' She went back to me in front of my face and I asked her, 'What you gonna do I'm pregnant, are you going to hurt me?' That lady looked at my belly for two seconds, 'So what?' She punched me on my face!" said Chen.

"The assailant deliberately crossed the street and singled them out and then mentioned race during the attack," said Anna Perng with the Chinatown Disability Advocacy Project.

Police are searching for the suspect believed to be a panhandler who the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office identified as Delores Marte.

She's being charged with simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and harassment.

"This is an active investigation and we have not ruled out additional charges, but there is not sufficient evidence that has been presented to us that this is a case of ethnic intimidation at this time," said the DA's office in a statement.

"I think just being in this environment of COVID-19, there's a really heightened fear and concern about anti-Asian sentiment," said John Chin, executive director of Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.

Chen has since posted about the incident on a WeChat group with over 200 Chinese American families, warning them about her attacker.

"What happened last week, I haven't left the house since yesterday. As soon as I went out of the house, I ran into her and it made me feel like, I'm so scared," she said.

Police have a warrant out for Marte's arrest.

Community activists plan to host a meeting with city leaders to address what they say is an ongoing issue.
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