CLINTON HILL, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A woman was sucker-punched in the face and became the victim of a hate crime while walking down a street in Brooklyn.
It happened last week by 360 Classon Avenue in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.
Hoa Nguyen has lived in this country for 40 years. She is not unfamiliar with hate, but this was the first time that hate became violent.
In an exclusive interview, the 67-year-old grandmother says she was a block away from home during her weekly routine to go to the grocery store for a senior discount.
But she never made it to the store. She was punched several times in the head.
Nguyen says just before the attack, her assailant was yelling and swearing.
There was another woman walking in between them. She says he darted around that other woman to get to her, to assault her.
She has no doubt she was targeted. She called her son, he called 911 and police arrived within minutes and arrested the suspect.
She is now sore from her head, down her neck, to her chest.
Cops arrested 51-year-old Mercel Jackson, who they say is homeless. According to the criminal complaint, he allegedly confessed to investigators:
"The defendant stated (he) punched Hoa Nguyen (because he) doesn't like how Chinese people look; thinks Chinese people look like measles; and doesn't like Chinese people looking at (him)."
The district attorney hit him with felony hate crime and felony assault charges.
"We are human beings, it doesn't matter what country you come from, we're same blood but we're different color," Nguyen said. "We can't help it."
Nguyen came to this country in 1981 as a Vietnamese refugee with her husband, infant son and with a dollar in her pocket.
But she didn't come with nothing, she came with love, and hope and strength. She says she forgives her assailant, even if he isn't sorry.
"When that guy hurt me, I didn't want him to go to jail at all," Nguyen said. "You can't carry with the problem all your life. Just let go."
The victim's family has started a GoFundMe to help fight Asian hate. Click here if you would like to help.
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