Oregon man charged with hate crimes in attack on 70-year-old Indian motel owner

REDMOND, Ore. — An Oregon man is facing hate crime charges in a New Year’s Eve attack that nearly killed a 70-year-old Indian motel owner.

James David Lamb, 53, of Eugene, is charged with attempted second-degree murder in a Dec. 31 assault on Meena Puri that took place at the Hub Motel in Redmond, according to the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office. Lamb is also charged with two counts of bias crime in the first degree, one count of assault in the second degree, one count of burglary in the second degree, one count of strangulation, one count of menacing and one count of criminal mischief in the second degree.

Lamb, who was booked into the Deschutes County Jail the morning of the attack, is being held without bond, jail records show.

Authorities allege that Lamb, who was a guest at the motel, broke into the manager’s office the morning of Dec. 31 and attacked Puri. Her husband, Satish Puri, told The Associated Press last week that his wife suffered injuries to her throat, as well as a black eye and a broken shoulder.

She remained hospitalized last week but is expected to survive, officials with the District Attorney’s Office said. A grand jury indicted Lamb on Jan. 6.

“Our life has changed forever,” Satish Puri told the AP. “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.”

Satish Puri said Lamb had gone to the night window of the motel office asking to use the telephone to place a long-distance call. Meena Puri asked him to come back at 8 a.m., when the office opened.

Lamb grabbed Meena Puri by the hair and used a large ashtray to break down the door, go into the office and attack her, Satish Puri told the AP.

“He’s a big guy,” Satish Puri said. “She’s a puny little 70-year-old.”

Deschutes County Jail records list Lamb as 6 feet, 2 inches tall. He weighs 205 pounds.

Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel praised Meena Puri’s strength and courage in giving testimony before the grand jury, an act that had to be done 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 in a 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.”

The bias crimes charges against Lamb are possible based on the state’s revised hate crimes law, which now allows a single defendant to be charged with a hate crime. Prior to the revisions, felony bias crimes were allowed only if two or more people harmed another person based on race, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability or national origin.

Lamb acted alone in the New Year’s Eve assault, Hummel said.

According to the news release from Hummel’s office, Lamb gave statements in which he expressed a desire to rid America of immigrants like Meena Puri.

Satish Puri told the AP he and his wife, who have been in the U.S. for decades, are American citizens.

“We love this country,” he said.