A man suspected of attacking seven Asian women on a single day in New York City was arrested Wednesday night, police told BuzzFeed News.
Steven Zajonc, 28, faces hate crime charges for his alleged spree of assaults, which took place over the span of just two hours on Sunday.
The spate of attacks continued the disturbing wave of anti-Asian violence, both in New York and across the country, and came less than a month after a 35-year-old Korean American woman, Christina Yuna Lee, was brutally stabbed to death in her New York City apartment after a man followed her home.
Police arrested Zajonc after he locked himself in a bathroom stall at the New York Public Library, NBC News reported.
The first attack occurred in Midtown Manhattan around 6:30 p.m., police said, when the suspect approached a 57-year-old Asian woman and punched her in the face. He then ran off, and the victim was treated at the hospital for a cut on her lip and facial swelling.
Ten minutes later and just one avenue over, the suspect punched a 25-year-old in the face and arm before again fleeing the scene. A few blocks downtown, and five minutes after the second attack, he allegedly punched another Asian woman in the face. The 21-year-old victim was transported to the hospital for a laceration and swelling of her mouth.
Just a few minutes later and blocks away, he punched another 25-year-old woman in the face near Union Square, and elbowed a 19-year-old in the face shortly after.
He fled again, this time to Lower Manhattan, and 20 minutes later was reported to have elbowed a 25-year-old in the mouth. Emergency responders treated her at the scene for swelling and bleeding of the lip.
Just over an hour later, in the Greenwich Village area around 8:30 p.m., the suspect is accused of assaulting a seventh Asian woman, shoving a 20-year-old to the ground.
Following the incidents, police released surveillance video of the suspect and asked the public to assist in identifying him.
Zajonc was charged with seven counts each of assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, aggravated harassment, and harassment.
It is unclear if Zajonc has retained an attorney. His address was listed as a homeless shelter in Midtown Manhattan.
On Thursday, in response to Zajonc's arrest, the organization Stop AAPI Hate reiterated how anti-Asian violence continues to be a major and terrifying problem.
“AAPI women deserve to feel safe in public spaces. It’s completely unacceptable that they are afraid to walk in their neighborhoods or take the subway without being targeted," a spokesperson for the organization told BuzzFeed News. "Policymakers in California are working with us to provide comprehensive measures to change this, and their counterparts in New York and every other state need to do the same.”
In a statement, New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera said, "I am equal parts devastated and enraged to know that such a display of racism and hate occurred in neighborhoods I represent, and I will not rest until we address this abhorrent behavior."
A total of 10,370 hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders were reported to Stop AAPI Hate between March 19, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021, according to the organization.
About a month before Christine Lee's fatal stabbing, 40-year-old Michelle Alyssa Go was killed by a man who pushed her in front of the subway.
Nearly a year ago, on March 16, a man fatally shot six Asian women at Atlanta-area spas. Just hours before the massacre, Stop AAPI Hate released a report showing a massive spike in violence against Asian Americans coinciding with the rise of the pandemic.