Man indicted for hate crime and murder in grisly New York hammer attack

White suspect allegedly targeted Asian men, believing he was defending Asian woman, authorities said.
A hammer-wielding suspect burst into Seaport Buffet on Jan. 15 and attacked the 60-year-old owner, a 34-year-old chef and a 50-year-old worker inside, police said.
A hammer-wielding suspect burst into Seaport Buffet on Jan. 15 and attacked the 60-year-old owner, a 34-year-old chef and a 50-year-old worker inside, police said.NBC New York

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By David K. Li

A New York man was indicted Friday on murder and hate crime charges for allegedly using a hammer to kill three employees at a Chinese restaurant, officials said.

Arthur Martunovich, 34, told police he targeted Asian men in the brutal Jan. 15 attack at the Seaport Buffet restaurant in Brooklyn, believing his rampage would somehow protect Asian women from abuse, authorities said.

The suspect gained that twisted view of Asian men and women after watching movies, law enforcement sources told NBC New York.

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Martunovich, who's white and lived near the Sheepshead Bay restaurant, was arraigned Friday on a 21-count indictment, which included three counts of first-degree murder, six counts of second-degree murder as a hate crime and six counts of second-degree murder, prosecutors said.

When Martunovich arrived at the restaurant, he told a Latino worker he was safe before attacking his Asian victims with a hammer, prosecutors said.

Martunovich told police that "Chinese men are awful" and that they "hold their women captive," according to court papers released following his arraignment.

"I left my apartment with the hammer," Martunovich told police, court records showed. "I brought the hammer to prove my love to women. I threw the hammer but I don't remember."

Chef Fufai Pun, 34, died shortly after the attack. Owner Kheong Ng-Thang, 60, and manager Tsz Mat Pun, 50, died in coming days from their injuries,

"This was a violent, horrific and harrowing attack on three completely innocent, hardworking men who were targeted simply because they were Asian," Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said. "Sheepshead Bay, like all of Brooklyn, celebrates its diversity and will not tolerate vicious, hate-filled attacks in its community."

Defense lawyer Ed Mandery called his client "very sick."

"It's a horrible situation," Mandery said. "It's hard to comment behind that. He's not an evil man, he's a sick man."

Associated Press contributed.