GLENDALE, Ariz. - The family of a 74-year-old Glendale man who was killed in an unprovoked attack is speaking publicly for the first time.
According to Phoenix Police, Juanito Falcon was walking near 17th Avenue and Bethany Home Road on the morning of Feb. 16 when he was attacked. Officers found Falcon suffering from head injuries and he was taken to a hospital, where he died two days later.
"Officers learned Juanito was walking in the area when he was attacked by a male for no apparent reason," police said in a statement on March 4.
Juanito Falcon (Phoenix Police Department)
Investigators say detectives developed probable cause to arrest 41-year-old Marcus Williams for the attack.
According to court paperwork, Williams punched the elderly victim in the face, causing him to fall and hit his head. The suspect then fled the scene, but witnesses reportedly were able to identify his car before he ran away.
Williams has been arrested and booked into jail. He is accused of murder.
Marcus Williams (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Family remains in mourning
It's been nearly three weeks since the attack that ultimately led to Falcon's death, and his family is still devastated, asking why the suspect punched him out of nowhere.
"It's really difficult to understand why this is happening, and it happened to our family," said Falcon's niece, Jacklyn Lozada.
Falcon, also known as 'Uncle Chito' to his nieces, meant so much to his entire family. He was a role model who migrated from the Philippines to the United States in 2004, and he was a husband, father, and grandfather who loved his morning walk.
"He was just walking, minding his own business, and for someone who totally decided to get out of his car, punch him, and drove off," said another niece of Falcon, Lysander Lanuza.
"And what's more, to think about it's my dad who was helpless and who was not able to defend himself. It's so devastating to think," said Falcon's daughter, Malou Acunin.
For two days, Acunin watched her dad in the hospital. She said that Falcon waited for one of his four grandsons to make the trip home from college to see him.
Acunin remembers the final goodbye.
"It's OK dad. You can go now because we're all here, and you don't have to think about us anymore. We can take care of ourselves," Acunin recounted.
Phoenix Police officials have said there is no evidence so far to suggest this incident is racially motivated.
"We don't know why this occurred, which is what makes it even more tragic," said Ann Justus with the Phoenix Police Department on March 4. "Sometimes, we just don't ever find out the why."
Falcon's loved ones, however, can't help but think otherwise, as videos of anti-Asian attacks on the elderly continue to surface across the country.
"They've lived their lives, and they've tried their best to be great citizens, and this is how they get repaid for it," said Lozada.
Now, the family vows to raise awareness.
"As one community, we're gonna make it happen," said Acunin, who went on to thank her community and everyone who has donated to their GoFundMe to help lay her dad to rest.
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