Prosecutors have charged a man accused of stabbing an Asian man in the back with second-degree attempted murder but have filed no hate crime charges in what appeared to be a violent, unprovoked incident.
The attack happened Thursday evening in New York City's Chinatown, when 23-year-old Salman Muflihi allegedly ran up behind the 36-year-old victim, grabbed his shoulder, and sank a knife into the man's lower back.
"This case is every New Yorker's worst nightmare," Assistant District Attorney Adam Johnson said in a statement in court. "To be attacked by a complete stranger with a large knife for no reason at all."
After the attack, prosecutors said, Muflihi then walked over to the district attorney's office and told security that he had "stabbed a guy up the block."
“‘If he dies, he dies,’” Johnson said the suspect told security. “He doesn’t give a fuck.”
Authorities said that Muflihi and the victim had no prior interaction before the attack.
Video obtained by ABC7 shows a man suddenly running up behind the unsuspecting victim. Police were also seen retrieving a large kitchen knife from the crime scene in video obtained by the news outlet.
The violent attack on the streets of the city's Chinatown comes as Asian communities across the country have seen a steep increase in attacks, raising fears of violence against Asian Americans that some advocates say is stoked by xenophobia and racism.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans in New York rose from just three incidents to 28 cases in 2020, the New York Times reported, although activists say that other such attacks were likely unreported or not classified as hate crimes.
In California's Bay Area, community leaders this year have also raised the alarm after seeing a number of violent attacks targeting Asian Americans in the region. Earlier this month, police in California arrested a man suspected of attacking and injuring at least three older Asian Americans.
In response to the number of attacks, the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and the Asian American studies department of San Francisco State University launched a program to record and track incidents of hate, violence, harassment, and intimidation against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
After Muflihi was taken into custody in connection with Thursday's stabbing, police said that the 23-year-old was booked on suspicion of attempted murder, assault hate crime, forgery, and criminal possession of a weapon. But the Manhattan district attorney's office opted not to include hate crime charges in court.
Johnson said that prosecutors may bring additional charges in the case if warranted during the ongoing investigation.
Prosecutors said that the victim in the case suffered a punctured liver and internal bleeding after he was taken to a nearby hospital. Doctors had to remove a kidney and an adrenal gland.
"He is currently still in the hospital in critical condition, and he may not survive," Johnson said.