Torrance police were conducting another hate crime investigation Wednesday, searching for whoever sent a racist letter containing a bomb threat to a Japanese cookware store.
An employee at the store found the letter taped to the front of the business on Monday, Torrance police Sgt. Alexander Martinez said. The name of the store was withheld due to security concerns expressed by the business owner.
According to NBC4, the letter said, in part, “go back to Japan … We are going to bomb your store if you don’t listen and we know where you live.”
The Torrance Police Department has taken the letter as evidence, and the investigation was continuing. No arrests have been reported.
The store owner told Channel 4 he moved to the United States at age 63 after running a business in Japan for decades. He has owned the store for nine years, and said the letter is the worst racism he’s experienced since moving to California.
“I’m disappointed to see such a letter because I love America,” the owner told the station.
An employee named Hiro found the letter, NBC4 reported.
“I know it’s a hate crime. I don’t know about if they just don’t like Japanese or Asians, because we’re selling authentic Japanese tools,” Hiro told NBC4.
The business does not have any security cameras because the owner doesn’t want customers to feel like they’re being watched while shopping in the store, but he has added a camera since receiving the letter, according to NBC4.
The discovery of the letter comes on the heels of videos that went viral last week, showing a woman hurling racist comments at Asian-Americans at a Torrance park on June 10. The woman in the videos has been identified by police as 56-year-old Lena Hernandez of Long Beach, and she remains at large.
Hernandez is the subject of two crime reports taken by officers following the confrontations that occurred at Wilson Park on Crenshaw Boulevard.
Martinez told City News Service Wednesday that the Hernandez case has been forwarded to the city prosecutor’s office for review of what charges she could potentially face.
In the first incident, Hernandez was caught on video verbally accosting a young woman exercising at the park.
“Go back to whatever (expletive) Asian country you belong in,” the woman yelled. “… This is not your place. This is not your home. We do not want you here.”
On Thursday, an Asian man posted a video online showing the same woman accosting and mocking him and his son on the same day.
“You need to go home,” the woman tells the man.
At a news conference Friday, Torrance police Chief Eve Berg said the same woman is suspected in an October incident, in which she allegedly verbally assaulted a custodian at Del Amo Mall in Torrance, then physically attacked a female bystander who tried to intervene.
“Our hope is that the members of our community will never have to endure such treatment,” Berg said.
She asked for the public’s help locating Hernandez, but declined to say what actual crime she may have committed.
“A lot of this might not rise to the level” of a crime, “but some of it may,” she said.
Torrance Mayor Patrick Furey on Friday also condemned what he saw on the videos.
“The city of Torrance does not in any way condone the language or activities that were done in our public space, Wilson Park, by this suspect,” he said. “In fact, it’s nauseating to absolutely anybody in our community. We are a diverse community — more than 80 languages spoken in the city of Torrance, somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of our population are Asian or Asian-Pacific Islander. More than 200 Japanese businesses have their corporate headquarters in our city. … We truly are a diverse population and businesses community. That’s what incensed us about this.”
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