NEW YORK – Police on Wednesday said a man suspected of brutally assaulting an Asian American woman in broad daylight has been arrested after surveillance video of the attack drew widespread condemnation.
New York Police Department said officers arrested Brandon Elliot, 38, of New York City, who faces charges of assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, assault and attempted assault.
Elliot was convicted of stabbing his mother to death in the Bronx in 2002, when he was 19, online court records show. He was released from prison in 2019 and is on lifetime parole.
The attack occurred before noon Monday outside a luxury apartment building in Midtown Manhattan. The suspect hurled anti-Asian sentiments and assaulted the 65-year-old woman, police said.
Surveillance video from inside the building captured images of the assault showing a man kicking and stomping the woman. In the video, staff inside the building do not immediately appear to intervene, though a union representative said they called for help.
The woman was hospitalized with serious injuries but was in stable condition, police said Tuesday.
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Elliot was living in a hotel nearby the attack that serves as a homeless shelter, police said. Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted that Elliot was on parole on a supervised release. It was not immediately clear whether Elliot had an attorney.
“Great work by your @NYPDDetectives, identifying & apprehending the assailant, all within 48 hrs – always seeking justice for victims,” Shea tweeted.
Officials in New York City and beyond swiftly condemned the attack and highlighted how it was another case in a growing number of incidents of anti-Asian hate and discrimination amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 3,795 incidents were reported to Stop AAPI Hate from March 19, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021, “only a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur,” the advocacy group said. The organization tracks incidents of hate, violence, harassment and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S.
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Mayor Bill de Blasio called the incident “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 at a news conference. “If you see someone being attacked, do whatever you can. 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.”
In a statement, the head of the union representing the building workers disputed the allegation that workers did not act and said they called for help immediately.
“Our union is working to get further details for a more complete account and urges the public to avoid a rush to judgment while the facts are determined,” union president Kyle Bragg said.
The management company of the apartment building where the attack occurred said Monday that it had suspended the staff members who did not intervene, pending an investigation.
“The Brodsky Organization condemns all forms of discrimination, racism, xenophobia and violence against the Asian American community,” the company said.
The victim “could easily have been my mother,” said Andrew Yang, a mayoral candidate and the son of Taiwanese immigrants. Yang also called bystanders’ apparent inaction “exactly the opposite of what we need here in New York City.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo also weighed in, calling the attack “horrifying and repugnant.”
Police sought the public’s help in the case and have said they were increasing patrols in predominantly Asian communities amid the spike in incidents. In New York City, there have been 33 hate crimes with an Asian victim as of Sunday, compared with 11 as of this time last year, the NYPD said.
In Washington on Tuesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a 30-day review to assess the government’s tracking capabilities and prosecution of hate offenses.
“The recent rise in hate crime and hate incidents, particularly the disturbing trend in reports of violence against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community since the start of the pandemic, requires renewed energy,” Garland said in a memo to all Justice Department staffers.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY; The Associated Press