An assault last month in a Texas Sam's Club has been deemed a hate crime by authorities.
In a report obtained by ABC News, FBI investigators determined that the assailant attacked an Asian American family, including a two-year-old child, because of panic over the rapidly escalating viral pandemic.
The incident occurred on March 14 in the Texas city of Midland. Suspect Jose Gomez, a 19-year-old from the local area, stabbed three members of the family, including two children aged six and two years old. An employee of the store, Zach Owen, was also stabbed in the leg while trying to stop the assault.
The FBI report states that Gomez, by his own admission, targeted the family because of their race and perceived ethnicity.
"The suspect indicated that he stabbed the family because he thought the family was Chinese, and infecting people..."
The World Health Organization had declared the pandemic, which emerged in China late last year, just three days before the stabbing. And according to the FBI, Gomez's incident shouldn't be considered an isolated one.
Its report notes that the Bureau has already seen a surge in reports of hate crimes against Asian American all over the country, and expects it will continue as the virus continues to spread.
"The FBI assesses hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States, due to the spread of... disease … endangering Asian American communities..."
"The FBI makes this assessment based on the assumption that a portion of the US public will associate [the virus] with China and Asian American populations.
Indeed, many Asian Americans have reported incidents of racism and mistreatment.
Some Asian Americans linked the rise in mistreatment directly to use of the phrase "Chinese virus" by President Donald Trump and other government and political figures.
"A few days ago, he said the 'Chinese virus,' and a lot of bad things happened after that. I think it's awful. It's a global virus, not only the Chinese virus. I think he should make an apology."
And while the FBI made no mention of Trump or his rhetoric in its report, Jose Gomez's case seems to have brought the issue up for many.
As for the incident in Midland, all victims of the stabbing have been released from the hospital. Jose Gomez is currently held on multiple bonds totaling $1 million while the FBI and local authorities mounts their case.
The book The Hood: The History of Hate in America and How to Argue Against It is available here.