Hate crime, attempted murder charges against Oregon man for attacking Indian-American motel owner

James Lamb

An Oregon man accused of breaking into a motel office on New Year’s Eve and attacking the Indian-American owner has been charged with attempted murder and hate crimes.

According to the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office, James Lamb, 53, of Eugene, who was staying at the Hub Motel in Redmond, broke into the manager’s office on New Year’s Eve and attacked 70-year-old Meena Puri. She suffered broken bones and remains hospitalized.

Her husband Satish Puri told The Register-Guard, CNN, Associated Press and other media that his wife has injured her throat, has a broken shoulder and a black eye.

Describing the Dec. 31 incident, he said Lamb had come to the night window at the office to ask to use the telephone for a long-distance call. After Meena Puri told him he should come back at 8 a.m., when the office opened, Satish Puri said 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. “He’s a big guy; she’s a puny, little 70-year-old,” Puri said.

Satish Puri told the Associated Press that both he and his wife are U.S. citizens, and have lived in the U.S. for decades. “We love this country,” he said.

The victim and her husband are US citizens, the husband told the Associated Press, and have been in America for decades. “We love this country,” he 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.”

Lamb, who made a court appearance on Jan. 10, remains in the Deschutes County Jail. His bail was raised from $50,000 to $1 million, according to Jessica Chandler, spokesperson for the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office.

District Attorney John Hummel told The Register-Guard that Lamb acted alone during this unprovoked assault. Oregon’s revised hate crime law allows a felony hate crime to be charged when a defendant acts alone to harm another because of that person’s race, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability or national origin disability or national origin.

“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 in a written statement. “Because of this woman’s strength, and because the Oregon Legislature passed a law last year to strengthen Oregon’s hate crime law, justice will be delivered in this case. Hate is not tolerated in Deschutes County.”

According to The Register-Guard, Lamb, who also has an address in Portland, was first charged on Jan. 2 with lesser offenses. But on Jan 2 he was indicted on Jan. 7 by a grand jury on the current charges including attempted murder, two counts of bias crime, assault, burglary, strangulation, menacing and criminal mischief.

Lamb has a local criminal history, including a 2015 conviction in Lane County of driving under the influence of intoxicants, interfering with police and two counts of recklessly endangering other persons, according to The Register-Guard report.

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