NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police have arrested a homeless man after another violent attack on an Asian woman in the city.
The incident, which happened on a crowded sidewalk, was caught on camera.
As CBS2’s Christina Fan reported, the Guardian Angels watched over Kong Sihk Tong restaurant in Chinatown on Tuesday, where less than 24 hours before a 55-year-old Asian woman was brutally punched and knocked out cold.
Video shows that as she lay motionless on the sidewalk, the suspect can be heard screaming that someone hit him. But witnesses and surveillance video show that was anything but the truth.
“The woman hit the ground, her butt hit the ground, she fell back, the back of her head hit the outdoor dining structure. And her eyes just shut off, blacked out,” said witness Jin Zhen.
This was just sent to me from my constituent. This just happened in my district in Chinatown. He has been arrested and our precinct is investigating. pic.twitter.com/sxNfCbrlza
— Yuh-Line Niou (@yuhline) May 31, 2021
Zhen was one of many who sprinted into action after seeing the victim slump to the ground on Bayard Street on Monday night. He quickly whipped out his phone to record video of the suspect before dashing over to the nearest precinct, alerting cops there the man was attempting to escape.
“I was like, ‘Hey officer, a woman down the block just got knocked unconscious. The suspect is fleeing on feet. Follow me and we’ll catch up to him,'” Zhen said.
“There is that moment of, ‘What did I just see?’ And then people moved in to see if she was OK,” Dax Valdes said.
Valdes is a senior trainer with Hollaback, which is on a mission to end harassment. The group has been offering free bystander intervention training since the beginning of pandemic, when reports of hate crimes against the Asian community started to skyrocket.
“What’s the most important thing we can do to help?” CBS2’s Jessica Layton asked.
“If you feel comfortable being direct and saying, ‘Hey, why don’t you back off and give them some space,'” Valdes said.
But if you’re not that bold, Valdes said you can delegate (ask others for help), document (take a photo or video) and distract (help to de-escalate the situation).
Their fast thinking, along with the work of restaurant staff members who followed the suspect, helped authorities arrest 48-year-old Alexander Wright. Last year alone, he was arrested eight times for arson and assault.
“We have more work to do with mental health and criminal justice, gotta glue them together,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
“Lives in a shelter, arrested eight times in the last year, randomly assaulting people, setting fires. The guy that was arrested on Friday setting fires. What are we doing in society, we’re releasing these people right back onto the street?” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
Community activist Karlin Chan was one of the many who ran to the woman’s aid. He said it’s clear the city isn’t doing nearly enough as the number of hate crimes against Asians continues to soar.
“You cannot hide a problem by putting them into a hotel or a homeless shelter. This man was another homeless man,” Chan said.
Police said Wright was to undergo a psychiatric evaluation at Bellevue Hospital.
According to the NYPD, officers found the drug K2 on him when he was arrested.
He was charged with multiple crimes, including assault as a hate crime.
CBS2’s Christina Fan, John Dias and Jessica Layton contributed to this report.