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Was bombing of Chinese food restaurant in Francisville a hate crime?

The owner of a Chinese food restaurant that was bombed while he was inside is seeking answers.

Damage from an explosion in Oriental Kitchen on N. 18th Street in Francisville can be seen. Credit: Sam Newhouse/Metro Damage from an explosion in Oriental Kitchen on N. 18th Street in Francisville can be seen. Credit: Sam Newhouse

It was an otherwise-regular night at Oriental Kitchen, located at 18th Street and Ridge Avenue, on Aug. 20 around 8:30 p.m. when a teenager ran in and ran back out.

A few seconds later, owner Yingtao Lin, 25, standing behind the counter, was rocked by the explosion from an M-80.

He "flew from the pressure of the bomb, was thrown," Lin said through an interpreter. "The whole place was filled up with smoke ... then the walls and the ceiling cracked and debris fell on him, then the light bulbs blew out. ... He had a glass screen there, it broke, he was hit by pieces of glass. ... He couldn't hear anything. His ears were numb."

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The next thing Lin knew, he was being pulled out of the wreckage by firefighters. He did not see a doctor because he does not have insurance but instead took painkillers and went home to recover. The next day, still in pain, he returned to the shop to begin cleaning up, he said.

A bomb explodes in a Francisville Chinese food restaurant on Wednesday night. Credit: PPD A bomb explodes in a Francisville Chinese food restaurant on Wednesday night. Credit: PPD

"He cleaned up because the restaurant means so much to him and his wife is pregnant with their second child. So this is their only means of survival," said Lin's lawyer, Chunyu Jean Wang, of Flushing, New York. "He opened it back up right away because he needs to survive."

The restaurant was in service today and has been refurbished to mostly normal appearance, except for the wall where the explosive was placed.

The bomb was placed in a small hole to the outside on that wall. It is still badly cracked on both sides.

The view of the damaged wall at Oriental Kitchen. Credit: Sam Newhouse The view of the damaged wall at Oriental Kitchen. Credit: Sam Newhouse

Lin, who lives nearby, hired Wang to assist him in communicating with police. He took over the restaurant about three years ago after his cousin, who owned the restaurant, was shot to death.

Now Lin feels that he is being targeted due to being Asian.

"He thinks it's racism," Wang said, saying that Lin saw the bomber wait for other customers to leave before bringing the firework in. "This was targeted at the restaurant, at Mr. Lin."

However, neighbors disagreed with that interpretation.

"No, it's just kids," said Tracy King, 49, who lives nearby, when asked if she though the bombing was a hate crime. "This is our Chinese food store. I was glad they reopened ... There's a lot of kids around here, some of them do dumb things."

Police are seeking this teenager, who is seen on surveillance footage planting an explosive in the wall of a Chinese food restaurant which goes off just seconds later. Credit: PPD Police are seeking this teenager, who is seen on surveillance footage planting an explosive in the wall of a Chinese food restaurant in Francisville, which goes off just seconds later. Credit: PPD

Another neighbor on the block who asked not to be identified said the bombing was a "stunt" to be videotaped and posted on Facebook.

Police have not made an arrest but are investigating and suspect two teenage brothers may have commit the crime, as well as several other M-80 bombings in the area over the past several weeks.

"They're kids," said Lt. Pat Doherty of Central Detectives. "I don't think they did it because of hatred, I think it was because there was a hole in the wall and they thought they could put it in there."

Doherty said are trying to confirm the suspect's identity off the surveillance camera before making an arrest.

"We're going to bring them in, but we want to do it the right way," he said.

Police are asking any tipsters to call 215-686-TIPS (8477) or send a text to PPDTIP (773847).

Watch video of the explosion below:

 
 
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