NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A woman said she was harassed and threatened – all because of her race – as she walked home from a store in Astoria, Queens this week.
“I want this guy caught immediately,” said Jean Aviles.
As CBS2’s Jessica Borg reported exclusively Friday, Jean Aviles said she was attacked by the man on Wednesday.
Aviles said the man harassed and tried to hit her on Wednesday.
“He just tells me: ‘You got to be deported. I’ll smash your face, I’ll shoot you. Get out of my country,’” Aviles said.
The 69 year-old did not want her face on camera on Friday. She said was coming home from grocery shopping at Key Food when the stranger threatened her.
“I told him: ‘I’m in my country. I’m an American citizen. I’m three generations of American citizens. Where do you want to deport me?’” Aviles said. “He says: ‘No, you get out of my country. This is not your country. It’s my country.”
Aviles, who is of Puerto Rican descent, then had to physically defend herself against the man.
“He bends over and he takes an umbrella to hit me with it, and I block him with my left hand, so my finger got cut,” she said.
Aviles said she then took her large umbrella, and hit the man several times. Her umbrella was lost in the commotion, and when the man then lunged at her, a passerby scared him off.
Aviles said she was walking on busy 31st Street around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday when the man, coming in the other direction, suddenly jumped in her face.
It was stunning to people who live and work in the racially diverse area.
“That would be very offensive,” one man said. “That’s very, very offensive.”
Aviles said the man appeared to be in his 60s and was last seen running toward the Ditmars Boulevard station.
“There’s other people in my neighborhood that I know have been targeted, but they’re afraid because they have no papers. They don’t want to say something,” Aviles said. “But I’m going to stand up.”
Citizen or not, Aviles said no one should be targeted.
Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. They are looking to see if surveillance video from nearby businesses or the subway station can help them catch the suspect.