- Associated Press - Thursday, March 16, 2017

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Korean national is facing a hate crime charge after he approached a woman in a Los Angeles shopping center, asked her if she was Korean and then repeatedly struck her in the head with a hammer, police said Thursday.

Jae Yang, 22, was charged with attempted murder as a hate crime in connection with the March 10 incident in the Koreatown neighborhood, Los Angeles police Capt. David Kowalski said Thursday. It was not immediately clear if Yang had an attorney who could comment on the allegations.

Police said the victim, a 24-year-old woman, had been standing alone in a shopping center when Yang approached her and asked if she was Korean. When the woman told him that she was, they say he walked away but returned moments later wielding a hammer. Surveillance video shows a man holding the hammer in his hand before coming up behind the woman and striking her repeatedly in the head, knocking her to the ground.

The man appears to continue hitting the victim while she’s lying on the ground until a security guard approaches and orders him to drop the hammer. The man, his hands covered in blood, then drops the hammer and lies on the ground until police arrive.

Yang did not know the victim and investigators believe he was specifically looking for a Korean woman to attack, Kowalski said. Police provided no information on why they believe Yang was looking to target a Korean woman.

“Without saying anything, he hit her on the head with the intent to kill or seriously injure her,” Kowalski said at a news conference Thursday.

Yang, who police said was homeless and recently immigrated to the US from Korea, had been carrying the hammer in his backpack, police said.

The victim, whose identity was not immediately released, was seriously injured in the attack but has since been released from the hospital, Kowalski said.

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Follow Michael Balsamo on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1.

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