NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A suspect is in custody following an assault on a transgender woman Friday night.
The man wanted in the assault was apprehended in New Jersey, police said. He’s being questioned by detectives. The female in in the assault is still at large.
Great job by Manhattan Warrants apprehending this suspect in NJ. Thank you to everyone who called in with information.
As I’ve said before, if you choose to commit a crime that is motivated by prejudice, you will be held accountable and brought to justice. https://t.co/M3hr11UBwc
— Chief Rodney Harrison (@NYPDDetectives) January 27, 2020
A transgender woman told police she was standing on the C train platform around 8 p.m. Friday at the West 155th Street and Saint Nicholas Avenue station in Washington Heights. She claimed a couple yelled anti-sexual orientation slurs, then slapped and spit on her.
The victim, identified as Serena Daniari, posted a video on social media, tearing up and asking to be left alone after the attack.
I was just attacked by a couple on the train. They spit on me and hit me and called me transphobic slurs. pic.twitter.com/YgPDZncIpo
— Serena Daniari (@serenajazmine) January 25, 2020
“She called me after it happened, and she was very upset and clearly very traumatized,” her brother, Milad Daniari, told CBS2.
“It’s terrible,” one man said.
“It can’t be tolerated in any way,” said Eileen Dwyre, who works in Washington Heights.
“It’s a shame, seeing as though the trangender community is one that has repeatedly been attacked,” said Elijah Thomas.
The MTA is now hoping to prevent another incident like this, joining forces with community advocates to help combat hate crimes.
“It’s a huge, huge issue, the violence issue against transgender people,” Dwyre said. “I’m glad they’re taking it as seriously as they are, and that the governor has somehow stepped in.”
“Anything the MTA can do to add more protection would be great,” one man said.
.@NYPDHateCrimes is investigating this loathsome, transphobic attack. If you have ANY information please contact them IMMEDIATELY.
Serena, on behalf of your city I’m so sorry this happened. Transgender and non-binary New Yorkers deserve to travel in their city without fear. https://t.co/mLM46e6a7u
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) January 26, 2020
“It’s something that needs to be a responsibility not just of the MTA but everybody to actually care for them,” said Thomas.
I'm directing the @NYSPolice Hate Crimes Task Force to assist in investigating this sickening attack.
On behalf of the NY family, I'm so sorry this happened, @serenajazmine. We stand with you in love & respect and we will catch the cowards who did this & bring them to justice. https://t.co/HCOoNssNRf
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) January 26, 2020
Both Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo took to Twitter to apologize to Daniari, with Cuomo directing the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to investigate.
My statement on the 2/24 attack: pic.twitter.com/pA5kcF9rqU
— Serena Daniari (@serenajazmine) January 26, 2020
Meanwhile, Daniari also posted a statement, saying in part “Thank you everyone for the outpouring of kind and supportive words. I’m overwhelmed and so, so grateful.”
Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) for Spanish. You can also submit a tip via the Crime Stoppers website, by tweeting @NYPDTips or by texting 274637.