ANTIOCH, Calif. (KRON) — Antioch police officers said they arrested a man who attacked an employee of The Habit Burger Grill when she tried to stop him from bullying a boy with special needs in Antioch.
On Monday, the Antioch Police Department identified the man as Isaac White-Carter, 20, of Hayward. “There are no outstanding suspects,” APD spokesperson Ashley Crandell told reporters at Monday afternoon’s press conference.
Nineteen-year-old Bianca Palomera’s facial injuries were so severe from the attack that she lost her right eye. “The victim is young and she lost her eye as a result of it. The assault is very gruesome. It’s a very sad case,” Crandell said.
White-Carter was arrested outside his home in Hayward Monday morning by a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force. He was taken into custody on two felony charges: Mayhem and assault causing great bodily injury.
On November 12, Palomera was working as an assistant manager inside the restaurant when she intervened to protect the boy.
Surveillance video from inside The Habit showed a group of young men walking in to order food. One of the men saw the boy standing alone and began harassing him, Palomera said.
The boy’s older brother worked at the restaurant. Palomera said she intervened because it was the right thing to do. She told the bully, “You can just leave.”
The man quickly became hostile toward Palomera, yelled anti-Mexican slurs, and punched her multiple times, Palomera told KRON4.
“An employee was punched in the face multiple times after protecting an individual with an intellectual disability from being bullied,” the Antioch Police Department wrote.
The group of men left the restaurant in a gray BMW SUV. “After he had attacked me, the other people he was with, they just collected their food and left, like nothing had happened,” Palomera said.
Palomera was rushed to a hospital’s trauma center following the attack.
“I thought I was crying, but then I realized that it was blood going down my cheek onto my shirt,” she told KRON4. “At the ER, when they opened it, I asked, ‘did you open my eye?’ And, that’s kind of when I knew I couldn’t see. It was just black.”
White-Carter could face hate crime charges, police said. The case will be reviewed by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday for filing charges.
“There were statements made during the attack that will be reviewed to see if hate crime charges apply,” a police detective told reporters.
White-Carter was interrogated by police Monday. He admitted to being at the restaurant the day of the attack, and told investigators “his side of the story,” the detective said. White-Carter will be booked into the Martinez Detention Facility Monday evening.
A GoFundMe page organized by Palomera’s sister has raised more than $153,000 to help pay for the victim’s medical bills.
Palomera said, despite her vision-altering injury, she hopes people will continue standing up to bullies. “Don’t be afraid to step up for somebody, whether you know them or not. If you won’t do it, no one else will,” she said.