Suspect arrested in attack on Asian American woman walking to church in NYC

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021
NYPD makes arrest in attack on Asian woman
38-year-old Brandon Elliot was taken into custody Tuesday night.

NEW YORK CITY -- The suspect wanted in the brutal attack of an Asian American woman as she walked to church has been arrested and charged with felony assault as a hate crime, according to the New York Police Department.

The arrest, posted on the NYPD Hate Crimes' Twitter account early Wednesday, comes after the man was seen on video kicking and stomping the woman near New York City's Times Square on Monday.

In a separate statement, police identified the man as Brandon Elliot, 38, of New York City, and said he faces charges of attempted assault as a hate crime, assault as a hate crime, assault and attempted assault.

The 65-year-old woman, whose name has not been made public, was discharged from the hospital Tuesday after being treated for serious injuries, a hospital spokesperson said.

Elliot was identified by residents as a local homeless man; multiple Crimestoppers tips directed police to a hotel serving as a homeless shelter on West 40th Street.

Police spent Tuesday watching the hotel and surrounding neighborhood before taking Elliot into custody.

He will be arraigned later Wednesday.

Elliot was previously arrested in July 2002 in the fatal stabbing of his mother when he was 19. After serving 17 years in state prison, he was released on lifetime parole in November 2019.

Josh Einiger has the latest on a brutal attack of an Asian woman in New York City as she was heading to church.

Police on Tuesday blanketed the midtown Manhattan neighborhood with wanted posters and offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of the man seen on the surveillance video.

At the same time, officials admonished bystanders for doing nothing to stop the man as police say he kicked the 65-year-old woman in the stomach, knocked her to the ground, stomped on her face, shouted anti-Asian slurs and told her, "you don't belong here."

The attack Monday was among the latest in a national spike in anti-Asian hate crimes, and happened just weeks after a mass shooting in Atlanta that left eight people dead, six of them women of Asian descent. The surge in violence has been linked in part to misplaced blame for the coronavirus and former President Donald Trump's use of racially charged terms like "Chinese virus."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called Monday's attack "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, evoking the post-9/11 mantra of "see something, say something."

The attack happened late Monday morning outside an apartment building two blocks from Times Square, a bustling, heavily policed section of midtown Manhattan known as the "Crossroads of the World."

Two workers inside the building who appeared to be security guards were seen on surveillance video witnessing the attack but failing to come to the woman's aid. One of them was seen closing the building door as the woman was on the ground. The attacker was able to casually walk away while onlookers watched, the video showed.

The building's management company said they were suspended pending an investigation. The workers' union said they called for help immediately.

"If you see someone being attacked, do whatever you can," de Blasio said. "Make noise. Call out what's happening. Go and try and help. Immediately call for help. Call 911. 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."

Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, said the victim "could easily have been my mother." He too criticized the bystanders, saying their inaction was "exactly the opposite of what we need here in New York City."

This year in New York City there have been 33 hate crimes with an Asian victim as of Sunday, police said. There were 11 such attacks by the same time last year.

On Friday, in the same neighborhood as Monday's attack, a 65-year-old Asian American woman was accosted by a man waving an unknown object and shouting anti-Asian insults. A 48-year-old man was arrested the next day and charged with menacing. He is not suspected in Monday's attack.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea announced last week that the department would increase outreach and patrols in predominantly Asian communities, including the use of undercover officers to prevent and disrupt attacks.

The neighborhood where Monday's attack occurred, Hell's Kitchen, is predominantly white, with an Asian population of less than 20%, according to city demographic data.

Shea called Monday's attack "disgusting," telling TV station NY1: "I don't know who attacks a 65-year-old woman and leaves her on the street like that."

According to a report from Stop AAPI Hate, more than 3,795 incidents were reported to the organization from March 19, 2020, to Feb. 28. The group, which tracks incidents of discrimination, hate and xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S., said that number is "only a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur."


The Associated Press contributed to this report.