An arrest was made early Wednesday in a brutal attack on a 65-year-old Asian woman that drew widespread outrage after footage of the assault was released.
New York City police identified the suspect as Brandon Elliot, 38, who was charged with two counts of assault as a hate crime and one count each of attempted assault as a hate crime, assault and attempted assault.
He was already on lifetime parole for fatally stabbing his mother in 2002, authorities said. He was freed from prison in November 2019, according to police. No other details about the murder were released.
The attack on the Asian woman unfolded about 11:40 a.m. Monday in the 300 block of West 43rd Street, which is in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, police said.
Police released video that captured a man kicking the victim in her stomach, causing her to fall to the ground. The man then stomped the woman’s head multiple times while making anti-Asian statements, police said.
Video appeared to show that as the assault continued, at least three people in the lobby of a luxury apartment stood by and watched. One of them closed the door as the assailant walked away and left the woman on the ground, the video showed.
“The victim sustained a serious physical injury and was removed by EMS to NYU Langone Hospital,” police said in a statement. She was discharged Tuesday.
Early Tuesday, the Brodsky Organization, which manages the luxury apartments, said the company suspended the apartment building staff members who witnessed the attack and appeared not to come to the woman’s aid.
In a statement posted on Instagram, the company said it “condemns all forms of violence, racism, xenophobia, and violence against the Asian American community.”
The company said that “the staff who witnessed the attack have been suspended pending an investigation in conjunction with their union.” It was working to identify a “third-party vendor present during the incident so that appropriate action can be taken,” according to the statement.
Officials decried the attack and had strong words for the witnesses who appeared to watch the attack without trying to stop it.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called it “absolutely disgusting and outrageous.” He said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that witnesses did not intervene.
“I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what you do, you’ve got to help your fellow New Yorker,” de Blasio said Tuesday during a news conference. “This is something where we all have to be part of the solution. We can’t just stand back and watch a heinous act happening.”
Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., who has spearheaded legislation to combat hate crimes related to the Covid-19 pandemic, said the video embodied the lack of empathy toward Asian Americans.
“We’ve gone from being invisible to being seen as sub-human,” Meng tweeted. “We just want to be seen as American like everyone else.”
The incident, one of two violent attacks captured on camera in New York City recently, was the latest in a wave of crimes against Asian Americans across the country. An analysis of police department statistics this month revealed that 16 major cities across the U.S. saw significant spikes in anti-Asian hate crimes last year.
The analysis, released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, found that while hate crimes decreased overall by 7 percent last year, those targeting Asian people rose by nearly 150 percent.
New York accounted for the largest surge from three in 2019 to 28 in 2020, an 833 percent increase.
On Tuesday, the White House announced initiatives to address anti-Asian violence amid renewed attention on attacks against Asian Americans, including Monday’s violent assault and the metro Atlanta spa shootings this month that left eight people dead — six of whom were Asian women.
The White House said President Joe Biden would reinstate and expand the scope of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The initiative included funding for AAPI survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and research on bias against Asian Americans, the White House said.
As part of his Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force, Biden will also establish a committee to address xenophobia against Asian Americans, the White House said.
On Tuesday, Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said she was “horrified” by Monday’s attack and that the initiatives were a step in the right direction.
“We are in this this difficult time period in which people are suffering so much for the coronavirus,” Chu told MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan. “They’re taking it out on the most vulnerable and the elderly.”
“This is the kind of thing that we’re experiencing,” she said. “An irrational blame on Asian Americans for the coronavirus. And that’s why we are coming together.”
Lauren Egan contributed.