A parolee convicted of killing his mother nearly two decades ago has been arrested on hate crime charges over an attack on an Asian American woman in New York City, police said.
New York Police Department said Brandon Elliot, 38, is the man seen on surveillance video (pictured above) kicking and stamping on the woman near Times Square in Manhattan on Monday.
They said Elliot was living at a hotel that serves as a homeless shelter a few blocks from the scene of the attack. He was taken into custody at the hotel around midnight, after tips from the public.
Elliot was convicted of stabbing his mother to death in the Bronx in 2002, when he was 19. He was released from prison in 2019 and is on lifetime parole. The parole board had previously twice denied his release. His record also included an arrest for robbery in 2000.
“When you’re releasing people from prison and you’re putting them in homeless shelters you’re asking for trouble,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told WPIX-TV.
“There’s got to be a safety net and there’s got to be resources for them. You just shake your head and say, ‘What could possibly go wrong’, and this is what goes wrong. It just never should happen.”
Elliot, who is black, faces charges of assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, assault and attempted assault, police said.
The victim was identified as Vilma Kari, a 65-year-old woman who emigrated from the Philippines, her daughter told the New York Times.
Jose Manuel Romualdez, the Philippines’ ambassador to the US, said Ms Kari was Filipino American.
The country’s foreign secretary, Teodoro Locsin Jr, condemned the attack in a Twitter post, saying: “This is gravely noted and will influence Philippine foreign policy.”
The Philippines and the US are long-time treaty allies, but Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte is a vocal critic of US security policies and has moved to terminate a key agreement that allows large military exercises with US forces in the Philippines.
Ms Kari was walking to church in midtown Manhattan when police said a man kicked her in the stomach, knocked her to the ground, stamped on her face, shouted anti-Asian slurs and told her, “You don’t belong here”, before casually walking away as onlookers watched.
She was discharged from hospital on Tuesday after being treated for serious injuries, a hospital spokesperson said.
Monday’s attack, among the latest in a national spike in anti-Asian hate crimes, drew widespread condemnation and concerns about the failure of bystanders to intervene.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio called the attack “absolutely disgusting and outrageous” and said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that witnesses did not help the woman.
The attack happened just weeks after a mass shooting in Atlanta that left eight people dead, six of them women of Asian descent, and just a few days after a 65-year-old Asian American woman in the same Manhattan neighbourhood was threatened and heckled with anti-Asian slurs.
The surge in violence has been linked in part to misplaced blame for the coronavirus pandemic and former president Donald Trump’s use of terms like “Chinese virus”.