A man has been arrested in connection with a brutal attack on an elderly Asian American woman in White Plains, New York, police said Friday.
Nancy Toh, 83, was spit on and punched near the Westchester shopping center on Tuesday, police said. She hit the ground hard enough that she "blacked out momentarily," White Plains police Capt. James Spencer said in a statement.
Toh's face and hip were injured, and she possibly suffered a concussion, he said.
She reported the attack on Wednesday, Spencer said, adding that police focused on Glenmore Nembhard, 40, as a suspect and found him in the area Thursday.
He was arrested and charged by the Westchester County Office of the District Attorney with felony assault in the second degree with intent to cause physical injury to a person who is 65 years of age or older, said spokesman Dan Weiller, by email.
The Legal Aid Society of Westchester County, which handles public defenders for the region, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. According to jail records, Nembhard's next court date is Wednesday.
District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah said in a statement Friday that the possibility a hate crime occurred was still under investigation.
"Attacks like this one impact all of us," she said. "They create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that keeps us from feeling safe and secure in our homes and communities."
The violence occurred amid an explosion of attacks on Asian Americans only a few months after the end of President Donald Trump's tenure as a leader who repeatedly blamed the Covid-19 pandemic on China.
President Joe Biden addressed the issue Thursday in his first primetime address.
"At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans, are on the front lines of this pandemic trying to save lives and still — still are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America," he said. "It's wrong, it's un-American, and it must stop."
An analysis this month by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, indicated hate crimes targeting people of Asian heritage in the U.S.'s 16 largest cities rose nearly 150 percent in 2020.
"This was an appalling and unprovoked incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and the victim’s family," White Plains Mayor Tom Roach said in a statement Friday. "We condemn acts of violence and hatred and will not tolerate them in our community."