Senior veterans break up ugly racist attack: ‘We had to hold her down to keep her away’
A 36-year-old woman from Santa Rosa, California reportedly punched and kicked another woman at a cemetery in Sebastopol on Monday, all the while shouting racist slurs and mocking the victim’s manner of speech.
According to KRON Channel 4, Holly Mae Lewis was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon and committing a hate crime after she attacked another mourner on Memorial Day.
Witnesses said that Lewis became agitated when she could not locate a relative’s grave at the Sebastopol Memorial Lawn. Around 9:30 a.m., she asked a 60-year-old stranger for directions.
When the woman replied, however, Lewis flew into a rage and mocked the woman’s speech, hurled ethnic slurs and punched and kicked the victim in the head and face.
A group of three veterans ranging in age from 68 to 83 intervened between Lewis and the victim, trying to separate them. The men were placing flags on the graves of fallen service members — as they do every Memorial Day — when the attack took place.
“I was just desperately trying to pry her hand away from the other woman’s hair,” said Vietnam War veteran Jerry Lites, 72, to SFGate.com. “She was still kicking her in the legs and face. We had to hold her down to keep her away.”
“It took three of these guys to pull her off,” said Sebastopol police Officer Joe Furry.
Furry told SFGate that by the time he reached the scene, Lewis had fled, but witnesses copied down her license plate number as she drove away. The numbers were slightly jumbled, but Sebastopol police dispatcher Tracy Peters combed vehicle records until she matched the name on the grave Lewis was searching for to a different combination of the numbers and letters reported by witnesses. At length, she found a blue minivan matching the description of the vehicle Lewis was driving when she left the scene.
Officers arrested Lewis at her home in Santa Rosa. She was taken to Santa Rosa County Jail, where her bond was set at $30,000.