A 42-year-old man has been charged with attempted murder and assault as hate crimes for brutally attacking an older Asian woman in Yonkers, New York, on March 11, police said.
According to investigators, the man, whom police identified as Yonkers resident Tammel Esco, called the 67-year-old woman an “Asian bitch” as she walked past him toward her building.
As she entered the lobby, the assailant knocked her to the ground with a punch to the head from behind, then punched her more than 125 times with alternating fists, stomped on her, and spit on her.
Investigators said she had “multiple contusions and lacerations to her head and face, facial bone fractures, and bleeding on the brain” as a result of the attack. As of Monday, she was in stable condition and recovering in a hospital, police said.
The horrifying attack was captured on a surveillance camera. The footage, which police have shared publicly, is graphic.
“This is one of the most appalling attacks I have ever seen; to beat a helpless woman is despicable and targeting her because of her race makes it more so,” Yonkers Police Commissioner John Mueller said in a statement. “This defendant must be held to the maximum punishment allowed by law to send a clear message that hateful, violent behavior will not be tolerated in our communities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and her family, that she may make a full recovery.”
Police arrived at the scene and found the woman unconscious in the lobby with severe facial injuries. Esco was outside the building, and police took him into custody.
“Hate crimes are beyond intolerable in our city,” Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said. “I continue to keep the victim and her family in our thoughts and prayers.”
Esco is being held at the Westchester County Jail, police said, and is due to appear in court on March 25.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a representative for Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that tracks hate and discrimination incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the US, called the attack “sickening and horrifying.” The group noted that the violence comes just days before the one-year anniversary of the deadly Atlanta spa shootings, where eight people were killed, including six Asian women.
“AAPI communities across the country continue to experience enormous amounts of pain and suffering. We need to continue to advocate for victim services and violence prevention efforts,” the advocacy group said.
“The appalling attack is yet another reminder that Asian American women elders continue to face disproportionate, hateful violence — and much more needs to be done to ensure the safety of our communities,” Thu Nguyen, the executive director of OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, told BuzzFeed News.
There has been an alarming increase in reports of violent attacks against Asian people — especially older people and women — in the past few years, including from the onset of the pandemic.
Official statistics on hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are not always accurate; one report found that AAPI people were less comfortable reporting such incidents to the authorities than other races. However, Stop AAPI Hate documented more than 10,000 hate incidents against AAPI people from March 2020 to December 2021.
Disturbing surges in anti-Asian hate crimes have been reported in more populous cities, in particular. In New York City, which is about 20 miles south of Yonkers, a 28-year-old white man went on a spree of assaults, attacking seven Asian women in the space of two hours at the beginning of March.
Just a month prior, a 35-year-old Korean American woman, Christina Yuna Lee, was stabbed to death in her New York City apartment after a man followed her home.
In January, 40-year-old Michelle Alyssa Go was killed after a man pushed her in front of an oncoming subway train in Manhattan.