“It’s not right what you’re doing,” 19-year-old Bianca Palomera, an employee at The Habit Burger Grill in Antioch, California, told a customer and three other individuals who were harassing a young boy with special needs as he waited for his brother – another employee – to get off work.
For her intervention on behalf of the young man, Palomera was brutally assaulted, resulting in injuries that resulted in her losing her right eye.
The entire incident was caught on video, according to NBC Bay Area, which published a short excerpt (warning: violence).
“He punched me once, and my headset and my glasses went flying off my face,” she told the news outlet. “He was throwing threats and slurs saying that he was going to ‘beat him up,’ [and] ‘why does he keep looking his way?’ That’s when I stepped in and I said ‘it’s not right what you’re doing.’”
When Palomera defended herself, she was hit several more times. The suspects then left in a grey BMW SUV and are still at large.
Palomera underwent emergency surgery, but doctors were unable to save her eye.
Antioch’s mayor, Lamar A. Thorpe, spoke out on Facebook about the incident.
“To say this [is] a disappointing and angering matter, is an understatement,” Thorpe wrote. “This started because an individual thought it was appropriate to bully a child with special needs. Disgusting.
“While Bianca may be a victim of crime, she [is] also an Antioch shero [sic] worthy of our praise and admiration. She embodies what is [sic] means to be an open and inclusive city.
“I have confidence Antioch Police Department will find and arrest those involved. Once that is done, I’m calling on the DA to prosecute these individuals to the fullest extent of the law.”
Palomera’s family has set up a donation page to help with Bianca’s medical expenses. To date, the family has raised approximately $150,000.
Bianca’s sister, Erika Palomera, posted the story along with surveillance videos on her Facebook page hoping to engage the public in the search for the suspects.
“It is an outrage that not only a man put a hand on a female,” Erika wrote. “But to the degree it went to and the amount of damage it caused. She was only trying to do the right thing and stop a special needs person from being bullied.
“We want to thank you beforehand and ask you to put yourself in our shoes and bring justice for her.”
We wish Bianca a speedy recovery. Her courage on behalf of a person with special needs, putting herself in harm’s way as she did, is the epitome of what the Bible teaches about protecting those who are unable to protect themselves against evil.
“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed” Psalm 82:3 (NIV).
Photo from GoFundMe.