By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu Senior Editor
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help a teacher’s assistant who was brutally attacked as he was waiting for the bus in Rosemead on Feb. 7.
Matthew Leung, 51, works at Gates Street Elementary in Lincoln Heights, near the former Keiro Retirement Home. He was waiting for the bus near Rosemead Boulevard and Marshall Street when he had a brief conversation with a man on a bike. A few minutes later, the man returned, grabbed Leung’s walking stick and started to beat him. A Good Samaritan found Leung lying on the ground bleeding and immediately called 911.
Leung was left bloodied, lost part of a finger in the attack and also suffered a concussion and head injury that required stitches.
Nonetheless, he responded in an interview that, given the chance to speak with his attacker, he would say, “Just be kind.”
“That is so typical of Matthew. He’s so caring, he would never ask for help. He’s very humble,” said Diane Yokoyama.
Yokoyama is a teacher at Gates, one of the educators that proudly call themselves the Gates Street Ohana. Yokoyama, Rita Wong, Mariana Hernandez, Tammy She, Shari Gong, May Cun and Rowena Quijano have helped organize the GoFundMe on Leung’s behalf to help pay for medical bills. As of Friday, the campaign has raised over $40,000.
Gong explained that ohana, “family” in Hawaiian, is an expression of love. She formerly taught at Gates Street and Leung was her aide. Leung has lost both his parents and is permanently handicapped due to an accident that left him in a coma for several months.
During the pandemic, his hours have been reduced due to budget cuts in public schools. The Gates Street Ohana says he is known for his work ethic and kindness.
“Matthew was my aide at Gates Street for several years and never missed a day, always exhibiting patience and kindness with the kids,” Gong said. “He has dedicated over two decades of service to the community and I want him to know that people are looking out for him in these times.”
The Gates Street Ohana members have been heartened by the outpouring of support from current and former staff, as well as others responding to the campaign.
“The kids love him. He’s always there. They’ve never seen a bad side to Matthew. He’s really a caring individual,” Yokoyama said.
Leung reunited via Zoom this week with the kindergarten kids in Hernandez’s class.
“They were so excited to see him and they were showering him with many happy greetings and ‘I miss you’s.’ He was overwhelmed and his eyes were tearing up. He choked up and couldn’t even speak,” Gong wrote, in a post on his GoFundMe page.
Police have no motive for the beating, which occurred during a sharp uptick in violent attacks on Asian Americans, particularly against the elderly. According to Stop AAPI Hate there have been 2,088 reported hate incidents filed in 41 weeks.
“Help Matthew Leung’s Road to Recovery” can be viewed on the web at: www.gofundme.com/f/5u6su2-