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July 09, 2021

Woman, 79, believed to be author of threatening letter sent to Cambodian group in South Philly, police say

The matter has been referred to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, which will determine whether charges are filed

Investigations Racism
threatening letter Cambodians fireworks StreetView/Google Maps

Police say a woman is under investigation for allegedly writing the threatening letter delivered to the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia's building in South Philly. The author purportedly was upset about fireworks being lit at a neighborhood park and threatened to shoot people.

A 79-year-old woman is under investigation for allegedly writing the anonymous, threatening letter that was delivered to a Cambodian community group's building in South Philly, according to police. The woman purportedly was upset about fireworks being lit at a neighborhood park.

Dated June 30, the typed letter was sent to the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia's center on the 2400 block of South Seventh Street, police said. It was opened at the center on Monday, and the association contacted law enforcement.

The author threatened to shoot people setting off the fireworks at Mifflin Square Park, near Fifth and Ritner streets. She also claimed to be a former military member and said "constant" fireworks set off by Cambodian residents at the partk were affecting her sleep and mental health.

Investigators said they identified the woman as a person of interest in the case Wednesday after she "claimed to be the author of the letter." They also said that they have determined that the woman is not a former military member and does not have access to weapons.

The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office will review the investigation to determine if criminal charges will be filed. The woman's identity has not been released.

"We take this threat very seriously, especially with the ongoing Anti Asian Hate and violence," CAGP Board President Nak Chhoeung and Executive Director Sarun Chan said in a post on the Cambodian association's Facebook page.

The group followed up with another post on Thursday, that stated, "With the targeted ethnic intimidation and violent threats against the Cambodian American community, we seek accountability, acknowledgement, and protection of the Cambodian, immigrant, and BIPOC communities in these underserved and under-resourced neighborhoods."

And Friday afternoon, member of CAGP gathered at Mifflin Park to speak out about the letter and racism.

Posted by Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia (CAGP) on Friday, July 9, 2021

According to the Inquirer, in the threatening letter the author wrote, "I want to take a gun and go down there and kill these individuals. … I am writing you to let you know when I do freak out and try to kill these people that it is your fault for not going to them and encouraging them (it is in their best interest) to stop doing this and remain alive!" 

Hate crimes against Asians increased by 194% during the first quarter of 2021, compared to that same period of time in 2020, in 22 large cities and counties across the country, according to the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.