When Byong Choi died of tuberculosis at age 83 last month, the Korean American's family had to put off his funeral in Orange County, Calif., until March 19 because of COVID restrictions, reports the Washington Post. Three days after they finally laid him to rest, a "disturbing and racist" letter arrived at the home of his 82-year-old widow in Leisure World, a gated community in Seal Beach, per ABC7. "Now that Byong is gone makes it one less Asian to put up with in Leisure World," read the letter, postmarked in Los Angeles the day of Byong's funeral. "You fricken Asians are taking over our American community!" The letter then got even more ominous: "Watch out! Pack your bags and go back to your country where you belong!" Byong's daughter, Claudia Choi, was distressed but not surprised about the "cruel" note sent to her mom. "To target a grieving widow, it's disgusting," she tells CBS Los Angeles.
Choi, who thinks the letter came from someone within the mostly white Leisure World community, reported it to the police and FBI. Police say they're carrying out handwriting analysis, as well as lifting fingerprints and doing DNA tests. The letter to Byong's family comes shortly after the Atlanta spa shootings in which six Asian women were killed, and amid an uptick in attacks against Asians in the US since the pandemic began. "Hate directed toward any member of our community is disgusting and will not be tolerated," says Philip Gonshak, the city's police chief, per CBS. In a statement, Leisure World calls the letter "malicious" and says "all actions will be taken to locate and prosecute the individual." It has also told Byong's family that if the letter did come from inside the community, that resident will be booted. (Read more Asian-Americans stories.)