CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — On a hunch last weekend, Barbara Gatewood Sgueglia thought it was a good idea to check on the crew at her favorite Chinese restaurant in the Great Bridge Shopping Center in Chesapeake.

“We had heard rumors that so many Chinese restaurants had shut down because they were being boycotted,” said Sgueglia.

Unfortunately, her hunch that there might be some problems was correct. The owners of Taste of China shared with her harrowing tales of strangers yelling “Go back to China,” a car vandalized with the same hateful words and crude comments about the food. But, that’s not where the display of hate ended.

Sgueglia says the co-owner shared with her a frightening incident Saturday where a stranger stormed into the restaurant and threw a bucket of dirty water on her.

The co-owner told 10 On Your Side via phone she did not report the incidents to local police, but if it happens again she will.

In an email to 10 On Your Side, a police spokesperson said based on the reports as described by Sgueglia, the police department is opening an investigation into possible hate crimes at the restaurant.

The local investigation was launched just as an increase in recent hate crimes against Asian Americans have been recorded across the United States.

In Texas, a 2-year-old Asian child was stabbed, acid was tossed on a woman in New York and there are widespread reports of threats and intimidation.

FBI Director Christopher Wray, concerned about the crimes, issued a statement last week saying “Hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States, due to the spread of coronavirus disease…endangering Asian American communities.”

Sgueglia has no appetite for xenophobia. She’s heard the toxic comments that could hurt the people she calls family.

“They are saying don’t go to Chinese restaurants; you have to support Americans and they are Americans. They are our people, they’re our neighbors,” she said.

On her Facebook page, Sgueglia called on the people of Hampton Roads to show some love to the Asian community by ordering take out meals at Taste of China and other Chinese restaurants around the region. Before 6 p.m. Monday evening, Taste of China had run out of food.

“They have been just such an important part of this community everybody in Great Bridge knows them, everybody loves them,” Sgueglia said.

Those with information are encouraged to submit a tip via P3 tips or call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.

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