New York City police have announced that a 38-year-old parolee has been arrested on assault and hate crime charges for a widely publicized attack this week on an Asian American woman.
Brandon Elliot was taken into custody early Wednesday at a hotel several blocks from where the assault took place in midtown Manhattan on Monday. The NYPD said tips from the public led them to Elliot, who was living at the facility that has been serving as a homeless shelter.
He is accused of the unprovoked attack on Vilma Kari, 65, who was on her way to church shortly before lunchtime Monday, in front of a luxury apartment building in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood near Times Square. Security video showed the attack, as well as two security guards inside the building who witnessed the attack but did nothing to help the woman. One of the guards closed the door from the inside as the victim lay on the sidewalk.
Police said Elliot approached Kari, kicked her in the stomach, kneed her to the sidewalk and then stomped on her face several times, all while shouting racial slurs and claiming, “You don’t belong here.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea decried the system of releasing convicted criminals early, only to steer them to homeless shelters without a plan for re-assimilation into society.
Shea called the assault on Kari, a Filipina American, “a completely unprovoked attack on an innocent, defenseless woman.”
The victim was hospitalized at NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan with what the police described as serious injuries.
The Manhattan attack is the latest in a recent plague of anti-Asian hate crimes, and drew the ire of Mayor Bill de Blasio for bystanders failing to intervene as an elderly woman was being beaten on the street in broad daylight.
“We continue to see these horrible, disgusting attacks on Asian American New Yorkers and it’s got to end,” de Blasio said at a City Hall press briefing. “Yesterday, absolutely disgusting and outrageous video of an Asian woman being attacked, pushed to the ground, kicked viciously by someone full of hate.”
He added, “Then to see a security guard standing by and not intervening — absolutely unacceptable.” He urged New Yorkers to “do whatever you can, make noise, immediately call for help.”
The guards have been suspended, according to the building’s management company.
“I watched the video of the Asian American woman attacked in Hell’s Kitchen,” said mayoral candidate and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang. “It could easily have been my mother, who walks on that block regularly. This hate violence must end.”
Elliot, who is Black, was released from prison in 2019, and is on lifetime parole for the stabbing death of his mother in 2002, when he was 19 years old.