’Go back to your country’: Houston woman accused of racial slurs against couple

HOUSTON — A Houston woman is accused of confronting a South American couple with a hammer and uttering racial slurs, telling them to “go back to your country,” authorities said.

Constance Lynn Bono, 61, was arrested Sunday and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to a probable cause order. The second-degree felony carries a punishment range of up to 20 years in prison, KPRC reported.

Those charges could be upgraded to a first-degree felony charge if racism is determined to be the motive, the television station reported. If the charges are upgraded and Bono is convicted, she could spend up to life in prison.

Arturo Cordovez and his wife, Lia Franco, are natives of Ecuador who currently live in New Orleans, KPRC reported. Franco, who treats coronavirus patients in the Crescent City, is finishing her medical residency.

The couple decided to visit Houston to unwind and were looking for a restaurant when they said they noticed a woman following them.

"So we stopped a little bit on the side and she was still there," Franco told KPRC.

“She stopped behind us,” Cordovez told the television station. “After that she started showing a hammer through the mirror. She was shaking her arm ... and cursing at us I think. I was thinking, ‘What did I do?’”

The couple decided to call 911 and turned into a gas station, where the woman allegedly followed. Franco said Bono was screaming and cursing while brandishing the hammer.

"And we go, 'What do you want?" Franco told KPRC. "And she said screamed 'You Mexicans, get out of my (expletive) country. Go back to your (expletive) country.'"

According to the couple, Bono exited her vehicle with the hammer, the television station reported. At that point, the police arrived and took Bono into custody.

Investigators have not been able to determine a motive for the incident.

"I think she needs help, she needs treatment, but that doesn't justify the fact she needs to follow the laws of her country," Franco told KPRC. "If she broke the laws here, she needs to pay for what she did. But for me as a physician, I think the most important thing is she needs treatment, she needs help."

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