TACOMA, Wash. -- The Tacoma Police Department was searching for suspects in connection with an attack on a Buddhist nun who was beaten last week by three people during a late night attack at Khmer Theravadin Buddhist Temple, authorities said.
The violent beating of Ngunuon Huon, 68, was caught on camera as a man and two women punched and kicked her head and body during the attack at the temple, located at 1420 E 44th Street in Tacoma, on Sept. 22 around 11:45 p.m.
Tacoma police spokeswoman Wendy Haddow said a 53-yiear-old woman was arrested for felony aggravated assault in connection with an attack at the address Tuesday night. Police said they were searching for a second male suspect.
Huon was treated for the injuries but told KOMO News that she feared for her life.
"I feel these people are very violent," said Huon, who is Cambodian, through a translator. "When they punched me, I fell to the ground and think I fainted for a little bit and prayed to Buddha to help me."
An assistant head monk said the attack occurred by a group who apparently had been squatting on the premises of the religious center over recent weeks.
"Downstairs is where these bad people who are trespassing and using our temple's water, electricity and bothering our elders without our permission." said Chea Poeuv. who has lived at the center for 18 years.
The interaction turned violent last week when the trio was apparently caught by Huon cutting a fence to enter the temple's property after the gates were locked for the night.
"I was the one trying to stop them from cutting the chain fence," Huon said. "I told them not to do that."
She said one of the women, who was pregnant, apparently struck Huon with part of the fence. She said the man punched her while one of the women pulled her legs and one of them choked her.
"The man was using the hammer (and) I thought I was about to die," Huon said. "And I was calling for help."
A temple monk filmed the attack on his phone, capturing a chaotic scene in which racial slurs and cuss words were used. At least two people were seen on the ground being physically assaulted by three other people who were standing.
The victim said her attackers mocked her while physically assaulting her.
"They were laughing and disrespecting my language and religion."
An 80-year-old temple elder came to the woman's aid but he too was attacked and suffered minor injuries.
Police said because the suspects have been living on the temple's premises, the dispute is more of a landlord-tenant dispute and the monks should obtain legal assistance in order to have the squatters evicted from the site legally.