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Man arrested after he allegedly pepper sprayed and hurled racist insults at Asian gas station owner

By MARLENE LENTHANG, ABC News

(OAKLAND, Calif.) — A man has been arrested after he allegedly hurled racist insults and pepper sprayed an Asian gas station owner in Oakland, California.

On Thursday morning the suspect was caught on surveillance footage at a gas station appearing to spray a substance in the station’s owner’s face.

The gas station’s owner Cwell, who did not release his last name, told local San Francisco ABC station KGO that the incident started when the suspect got into a disagreement with the cashier because he wanted to pay for his gas in all coins.

When Cwell stepped in to diffuse the situation, the man launched his racist harangue, he said.

“He just started mouthing off … ‘You should go back to China,’ like that,” Cwell said. “We were just bursting out laughing because it was so unbelievable.”

Cwell said that when he followed the man outside to record his license plate, the man exited his car and started shouting racist comments including, “Go to China” and “you’re not from here, you’re Asian,” KGO reported.

Cwell also alleged the suspect attacked him with pepper spray.

“The guy had pulled out his pepper spray and he had shot my face, arms. I ended up going to the ER to get taken care of,” he told KGO.

Police announced Friday they arrested the suspect on assault charges and the case was presented to the Alameda County District Attorney for review.

“OPD denounces all incidents involving hate,” the police department shared in a statement. The investigation is ongoing.

“I totally appreciate that you let me share my story because this has got to stop. I hope this brings awareness that everybody goes through the same stuff. We just have to understand that and understand that we all have to work together,” Cwell said.

The attack comes amid a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.

Nearly 3,800 incidents have been reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a California-based reporting center for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and its partner advocacy groups, since March 2020.

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