PALO ALTO (CBS SF) – Police in Palo Alto have arrested a woman on hate crime and assault charges after she allegedly attacked a man over his nationality in the city’s downtown Friday night.

Officers responded to a call of a battery in progress on the 300 block of California Avenue around 7:55 p.m. When they arrived, police found the victim but the suspect had fled on foot.

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During the investigation, police said the victim, a man in his 50s of Middle Eastern descent, was approached by the suspect, who is White. The suspect asked the victim for money. After he refused, she questioned the man about his immigration status and demanded to see his ID, which he again refused.

Police said the suspect then took a laptop out of her bag and struck him twice. She then picked up a wooden sign from the sidewalk, swung it at the victim and missed.

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Sarah Ann Neal is accused of attacking a man over his nationality on January 22, 2021. (Palo Alto Police Department)

Sarah Ann Neal is accused of attacking a man over his nationality on January 22, 2021. (Palo Alto Police Department)

The victim told police that the suspect told him that he probably hates women and was “the reason the country was going down.” He believed the attack was spurred on by the suspect hearing his accent while talking on the phone before the incident.

Police said the suspect, identified as 42-year-old Sarah Ann Neal of Santa Clara, was found about a half hour later near El Camino and Los Robles Avenue, more than a mile from where the attack took place. Neal was then booked into Santa Clara County Jail on hate crime and assault with a deadly weapon charges, both felonies.

The victim said he suffered pain to one of his elbows from the attack, but did not require medical attention, police said.

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According to jail records, Neal is being held at the Elmwood Women’s Correctional Facility in Milpitas on $30,000 bail. She is expected to appear in court on Wednesday.