The suspect in the stabbing of an Asian man in New York City's Chinatown walked into the New York County District Attorney's Office and admitted he had just "stabbed a guy up the block," according to Manhattan's Assistant District Attorney Adam Johnson.
According to a criminal complaint, the suspect told authorities, "I stabbed that guy. If he dies, he dies. I don’t give a f---," during his arrest processing.
"This is a strong case with video evidence, eyewitnesses, and a confession from the defendant," Johnson said in a statement.
The suspect has been identified as Salman Muflihi, 23, of Brooklyn. Muflihi is facing assault charges as well as one count of attempted murder in the second degree and another count of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree.
"We are continuing to investigate and may bring additional charges if warranted," Johnson said. Muflihi faces a minimum of 5 years in state prison and a maximum of 25 years.
Muflihi is accused of stabbing a 36-year-old man who was walking on the sidewalk at the intersection of Worth and Baxter streets, near federal courthouses. The incident occurred around 6:20 p.m. on Thursday, the New York City Police Department said.
"Without any prior interaction, the Defendant approached the victim from behind, grabbed his shoulder, and plunged the knife into his lower back," Johnson said. As Muflihi ran away from the scene, he said "I'm sorry," an eyewitness told investigators.
The injured man said he "never saw the Defendant and had no idea why he attacked him," according to Johnson.
The man sustained substantial injuries. His liver was punctured and he suffered major internal bleeding. Doctors at Bellevue Hospital removed one of his kidneys and his adrenaline gland, Johnson said, adding that the victim "is currently still in the hospital in critical condition and he may not survive."
"This case is every New Yorker's worst nightmare....to be attacked by a complete and total stranger with a large knife for no reason at all," Johnson said.
Muflihi's bail has been set at $500,000.
The stabbing incident came two days after Mayor Bill de Blasio and the commander of the police department's Asian Hate Crime Task Force spoke about crimes targeting Asians in the city and elsewhere.
Since the pandemic, there have been 28 incidents of Covid-related hate crimes against Asians, and all but one involved Asian victims, said NYPD Deputy Inspector Stewart Loo, who heads the Asian Hate Crime Task Force, which was formed last year.
There have been two this year, he said. The year before the pandemic, there were three anti-Asian hate crimes. Loo and de Blasio said hate crimes are often underreported, and they encouraged victims to report them.
Generally, for a violent act to be considered a Covid-related hate crime, there has to be something said or a statement by the assailant, Loo said.
Prior to Muflihi's confession at the New York County District Attorney's Office, the New York City Police Department's hate crimes unit was investigating the attack but their probe ended when Muflihi turned himself in and said that the stabbing was not motivated by race or ethnicity, according to NBC New York.
Update March 3, 2021: Since this story was published, online court records show that Muflihi has not been charged with a hate crime. The Manhattan District Attorney's office did not immediately return a phone call and email for comment on Wednesday.