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.
Brandon Elliot, 38, has been charged with two counts of assault in the second degree as a hate crime, and one count of attempted assault in the first degree as a hate crime, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. said.
Elliot 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.
Elliot lived in a hotel that served as a homeless shelter, according to police. He was taken into custody at the hotel around midnight, police said.
The suspect did not enter a plea in court on Wednesday, NBC New York reported. His attorneys did not seek bail, but asked that he receive medical attention, according to the news station. A judge ordered Elliot to be held without bail pending trial.
His next court date is scheduled for April 5.
The Legal Aid Society, which represents Elliot, said in a statement: "We strongly urge the public to reserve judgment until all the facts are presented in court. Mr. Elliot has a constitutional right to counsel and due process."
The attack on the Asian woman, who was on her way to church, 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.
The woman, who is of Filipino descent, was diagnosed at the hospital with a fractured pelvis, the DA's office said. She was discharged Tuesday.
Before the attack, Elliot allegedly "stated 'F--- you, you don’t belong here, you Asian,'" the DA's office said.
"Let me be clear: this brave woman belongs here. Asian-American New Yorkers belong here. Everyone belongs here," Vance said. "Attacks against Asian-American New Yorkers are attacks against all New Yorkers."
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 closed the door as the assailant walked away and left the woman on the ground, the video showed.
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."
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the attack “absolutely disgusting and outrageous” and 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.”
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."
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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 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."