An older Filipina woman who was the target of a vicious hate crime in her apartment building earlier this year said that the attack forever altered her sense of safety at home and in life.
"Because of the viciousness and hate of Tammel Esco, I lost the place I called home for over 24 years, the place where I raised my daughters, and my longtime neighbors," the 67-year-old woman, who has declined to share her name publicly, told her attacker in court on Tuesday. "We were ripped from our home because I fear for the safety of my daughters and myself.
"I lost my peace of mind, my ability to relax, I lost months of my life; I will forever be on edge," she said.
Esco, 42, was sentenced to 17 and a half years in prison for brutally attacking the woman as she entered her apartment building in Yonkers on March 11, 2022.
As she walked to the entrance of the building (which Esco also lived in, authorities said), he yelled at her, calling her an "Asian bitch." Surveillance footage shows Esco following her into the vestibule, punching her more than 100 times, stomping on her body repeatedly, and spitting on her.
The woman was treated for bleeding in the brain, facial fractures, and lacerations on her head and face.
Esco pleaded guilty to assault in the first degree as a hate crime in September.
The victim moved out of her apartment after the incident, Jennifer Wu, her attorney, told BuzzFeed News.
"What was incredibly painful to them was that the victim had lived with her daughters and raised her daughters at this apartment complex for 24 years," Wu said. "So in addition to losing her health [in the attack] ... she lost her home."
Delivering her victim impact statement in court on Tuesday, the woman said she could not believe that she survived the assault.
"As the attack happened, all I could think was, 'Please Lord let me live, please Lord my daughters need me.' A complete stranger heartlessly spit, beat, and kicked me over 100 times just because of my heritage," she said.
She thanked the authorities and medical staff for saving her life and said she was grateful for her two daughters, her family, and her community for their support during her recovery.
She also said she would never wish the pain and agony she went through on anyone else.
"My only hope is that God and the criminal justice system will see fit to make sure this never happens to any other innocent family again," she said.
The attack was "one of the most vicious and shocking hate crimes in Westchester County," District Attorney Miriam Rocah said.
"The successful prosecution of this case is the result of the courage and cooperation of the victim and her family, the partnership of the Yonkers Police Department, and our dedicated team who worked tirelessly on behalf of the victim," Rocah said in a statement. "This is a case that has traumatized not only the victim and her family, but also her neighbors, the Westchester community, and the broader Asian American and Pacific Islander community."
There has been an alarming increase in reports of violent attacks against Asian people — especially older people and women — in the past few years, particularly from the onset of the pandemic.
Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that tracks reports of hate and discrimination incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, received almost 11,500 reports of hate incidents from March 2020 to April 2022.
But official statistics on hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are not always accurate; one report found that they were less comfortable reporting such incidents to the authorities than other races.