SALEM, Ore. — A man was charged with attempted murder and hate crimes after breaking into a motel office and attacking a 70-year-old immigrant from India who owns the business with her husband, also an immigrant, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Meena Puri remained in the hospital with injuries to her throat, a broken shoulder and black eye after the Dec. 31 attack in Redmond, Oregon, her husband, Satish Puri, said.
“Our life has changed forever,” he said. “We’re not going to be in the motel business running it ourselves now, and she’s not going to be coming back to this place ever, because she’s so scared now.”
James Lamb, 53, of Eugene, was charged by a grand jury with attempted murder, two counts of a bias crime, assault, burglary, strangulation, menacing and criminal mischief, the Deschutes County District Attorney’s office said.
His court-assigned public defender was not immediately available for comment. Lamb was grinning broadly in his jail booking photo.
Satish Puri said Lamb, who was staying at the Hub Motel, had come to the night window at the office to ask to use the telephone for a long-distance call.
Meena Puri told him he should come back at 8 a.m. when the office opened, at which point Lamb grabbed her hair through the night window and used a large ashtray to smash down the office door, enter the office and attack her, Satish Puri said.
“He’s a big guy; she’s a puny, little 70-year-old,” Puri said.
District Attorney John Hummel said Meena Puri provided what he called heroic testimony to the grand jury from her hospital bed.
“Too many people in Oregon are silenced by intimidation and violence because of how they look, who they love, or to whom they pray,” Hummel said.
His office says the bias counts stem from statements by Lamb regarding Meena Puri being from India “and his expressed desire to rid America of people like her.”
Satish Puri said he and his wife are U.S. citizens and have been in America for decades.
“We love this country,” he said.