Police ID suspect arrested for ‘hate crime assault’ on elderly Asian American woman in NYC

NEW YORK — An elderly Asian American woman endured a brutal daylight attack on Monday in front of a New York City apartment building, whose staff appeared to watch the assault without rendering aid.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 9:57 a.m. ET March 31: The New York Police Department identified the suspect arrested early Wednesday in connection to the attack as 38-year-old Brandon Elliot, The New York Times reported.

Elliot is on lifetime parole following his 2019 release from prison after he was convicted of fatally stabbing his mother in 2002, multiple media outlets reported.

Elliot, who was living at a hotel that serves as a homeless shelter a few blocks from the scene of the attack, is facing multiple charges, including felony assault as a hate crime, The Associated Press reported.

Police also identified the victim in Monday’s attack as 65-year-old Vilma Kari, whose daughter said she immigrated to the United States from the Philippines decades ago, the Times reported.

According to the AP, Kari was walking to church in midtown Manhattan when police said a man kicked her in the stomach, knocked her to the ground, stomped on her face, shouted anti-Asian slurs and told her, “you don’t belong here” before casually walking away.

A man who opened the door at her apartment Tuesday told the Times that Kari was still hospitalized, recovering from a fractured pelvis.

A hospital spokesperson later confirmed to the AP that Kari was discharged Tuesday.

Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez said the victim is Filipino American.

The country’s foreign secretary, Teodoro Locsin Jr., condemned the attack in a Twitter post, saying “This is gravely noted and will influence Philippine foreign policy.”

In a memo released to Justice Department employees on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said that the department would make hate crime prosecutions a priority and would provide additional help to local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to investigate bias crimes, the Times reported.

Update 2:34 a.m. EDT March 31: The New York Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force has arrested a suspect in connection with an attack on a 65-year-old Asian American woman, authorities said early Wednesday.

“Thanks to assistance from the public and excellent investigative work by @NYPDHateCrimes detectives, the individual wanted for Monday’s assault of a 65-year-old Asian female, at 360 W. 43rd St., was arrested and charged with felony assault as a hate crime,” the department tweeted overnight.

No further information was immediately available.

Original report: The unidentified 65-year-old woman was hospitalized with serious injuries after a man - whom police are still seeking – punched, kicked and stomped her two blocks from Times Square, and video of the incident clearly shows the inactive bystanders, USA Today reported.

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According to The Associated Press, a lone assailant was visible in surveillance video of the Monday attack kicking the woman in the stomach, knocking her to the ground and stomping on her face, all while police said he shouted anti-Asian slurs at her. He then strolled away from the scene, the video showed.

Brodsky Organization, which owns the apartment building in front of which Monday’s attack occurred, issued a statement saying, in part, that “the staff who witnessed the attack have been suspended pending an investigation in conjunction with their union,” CNN reported.

The Brodsky Organization also stated that it is “working to identify a third-party delivery vendor present during the incident so that appropriate action can be taken” and condemned “all forms of discrimination, racism, xenophobia and violence against the Asian American community.”

The union representing the two workers, who appeared to be security guards, told the AP that the pair called for help immediately.

Meanwhile, the New York Police Department stated in a news release that it is investigating the incident as a “hate crime assault” and released the surveillance video, as well as photos of the unidentified attacker, CNN reported.

In his Tuesday news briefing, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the footage of the attack “absolutely disgusting and outrageous” and the lack of intervention by witnesses “absolutely unacceptable.”

“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.

“If you see someone being attacked, do whatever you can,” he 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.”

Monday’s attack is the latest in a recent surge of largely unprovoked attacks against Asian American community members nationwide, and the majority of the victims have been older than 60. The assault also occurred just weeks after a mass shooting spanning three Atlanta spas left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent, and the NYPD confirmed to multiple media outlets that there have been 33 hate crimes involving Asian victims in 2021.

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 “China virus,” the AP reported.

Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Monday’s attack “horrifying and repugnant” and ordered the state police’s Hate Crimes Task Force to offer its assistance to the NYPD.