FBI Investigating 2017 Homicide of Teenage Asian American as Possible Hate Crime
The incident was initially considered a “crime of opportunity," CBS Denver reported.
The FBI has announced it is looking into the 2017 death of an Asian American woman who was found dead inside her Colorado home as a possible hate crime.
The FBI released a poster of victim, Maggie Long, as well as sketches of potential suspects earlier in the week.
At the time of the December 1, 2017 incident, local law enforcement said the Asian American teenager was purposefully set on fire and burned alive in her family's Bailey, Colorado, home. Law enforcement also said that a Beretta handgun, an AK-47-style rifle, 2,000 rounds of ammunition, a safe and jade figurines were stolen from the home during the crime.
Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw has said that Long was "purposely set on fire and burned alive."
The FBI said in a statement to CBS Denver that it was looking into the death of the 17-year-old as a "hate crime matter."
Long’s death was ruled a homicide by local law enforcement and is still being investigated as such. No arrests have ever been made in the crime.
CBS News reported that the FBI did not elaborate on the reason why out is looking into the case as a potential hate crime, however, it did say in a statement, "Helpful information could include descriptions of individuals or vehicles seen in/around the vicinity of the property, individuals with demonstrated knowledge of what happened at the Long residence on the day of Maggie's murder, etc.”
Long's sisters spoke to CBS Denver about the potential hate crime connection that the FBI is exploring.
"This is an angle that wasn't looked into in the past, and at this point, it is no stone left unturned. Looking at the extent of violence in this crime, that is certainly an angle to look more closely into," Lynna Long told CBS Denver.
The victim's other sister Connie echoed the sentiment but found the potential hate crime angle “surprising.” She told CBS Denver, “So to have this be a possibility is a little surprising, but at the same time, in some ways it makes sense."
The sisters did say they did not notice nor experience anti-Asian bias or AAPI hate when they lived in the town.
The reward in the case is $75,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the crime, CBS Denver reports.
The FBI's hate crime investigation into the teenager's death comes as a series of racist attacks have targeted AAPI communities across the country since the COVID 19 pandemic gripped the nation after surfacing in China, CBS News reported.
Acts of violence, discrimination harassment and racism against the AAPI community have doubled since March, according to Stop AAPI Hate, NBC News reported. According to Stop AAPI Hate, incidents of anti-Asian hate in May reported have surged from 3,795 to 6,603 sine March. The group added that anti-Asian sentiment and anti-Asian bias have grown since the COVID 19 pandemic.
"What we've always said is that racism could have been dampened because the quarantine has sort of protected us. But now, we've had a year's worth of anger focused on Asians, the year's worth of economic distress, the year's worth of political rhetoric, vilifying Chinese and Asians," Stop AAPI Hate co-founder Russell Jeung told NBC News. "And so now that we're beginning to interact and all that anger and fear and racism is getting directed at us more."
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