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Attack of Asian store owner in Houston was hate crime, Harris County grand jury says

Keaundra Young could face a tougher sentence if convicted of misdemeanor assault after grand jurors determined she was motivated by racial bias, DA Kim Ogg said.

HOUSTON — The violent attack on a north Houston beauty supply store owner was a hate crime, according to a Harris County grand jury.

Keaundra Young, 24, is charged with assaulting Jung Kim at Uptown Beauty Supply on Kuykendahl in March.

Young could face a tougher sentence if convicted of misdemeanor assault because grand jurors alleged she was motivated by racial bias, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said.

“Houston is a place where people look out for each other, where neighbors help neighbors,” Ogg said. “Allegations like this, where someone would attack and terrorize another person because of their race, is counter to the cultural diversity we embrace.”

“Intent is formed in a second, as prosecutors would tell you, and in this case, again, her words alone tell us what her motivation was," said Carmen Roe, KHOU 11 legal analyst.

Roe said hate crime enhancements mean tougher penalties. A minimum six months behind bars, compared to a misdemeanor, where someone could walk away with no jail time.

“A grand jury indictment in any case is important because it means we had 12 citizens that a charge was appropriate but it’s a very low standard, it means nothing more than there was probable cause to believe a person committed a crime and in this case a hate crime," Roe said.

RELATED: Video: Attack at Asian-owned north Houston beauty store caught on camera

RELATED: What qualifies as a hate crime in Texas? Breaking down state laws

Jung Kim didn’t want to go on camera but wants to thank the community for all of their love and support, her son Sungjun Lee said Friday.

"After it happened, a lot of customers came to us saying, they gave us a hug saying they pray for us," he said. "99 percent of our customers, they’re nice. They’re great customers. They’re always nice to us and they encourage us. 

Kim told investigators that Young and four other women came into the store and knocked over some wigs on March 17. She asked them to stop playing around, and on their way out of the store, her son said he heard one of the women say, ‘Asian people shouldn't be in the Black market.’”

“We shouldn't be selling wigs or something like that because we are Asian. That's what they were saying," Lee said last month when we first reported the story.

The victims say the women came back in and that’s when punches started flying and Kim was knocked to the ground. The beating, which was caught on surveillance video, is difficult to watch. Kim said she was punched in the nose while the women were calling her "Asian" and "Chinese."

WARNING: THE VIDEO BELOW IS GRAPHIC AND MAY BE HARD FOR SOME PEOPLE TO WATCH

"She’s getting better physically, and then emotionally, like,  she’s getting better. She’s started coming back to the store and helping out the customers and talk to the customers," Lee said.

Lee says the community’s support is helping them heal.

Young is also charged with aggravated assault after trying to run over Kim family members with a car, according to Ogg.

Daquiesha Rachel Williams, 22, is charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly striking a Kim family member with her hand. She is not charged with a hate crime.

Williams claims she was the one who was targeted inside the store.

Assaults on Asian Americans have increased dramatically nationwide over the last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic that started in China.