Exclusive: 89-year-old woman who was attacked, set on fire in Brooklyn speaks out

Friday, July 24, 2020
BENSONHURST, Brooklyn (WABC) -- An 89-year-old woman says two men never spoke a word to her as they slapped her in the face and then set her clothes on fire in Brooklyn.

Speaking in Cantonese through a translator, the victim said she had just left her home in Bensonhurst the night of July 14 when the two men approached her near 16th Ave. and 77th St.

Surveillance video shows her leaving her home and then only minutes later returning after being set on fire.

She says one of the men first slapped her in the face then moments later she felt a sharp pain on her back.

Once she realized what was happening she quickly pulled up her hair so it wouldn't burn and then rubbed her back against a wall to put out the flames.

The fire left a large scorch mark up the back of the shirt she was wearing.

Investigators say they used a lighter or a match.

MORE: Elderly woman attacked, set on fire in Brooklyn: NYPD
Elderly woman attacked, set on fire in Brooklyn

The victim says she had never seen the men before.

She says she even didn't tell her family what happened until the next day because she didn't want her kids to worry.

The suspects never tried to steal her wallet or phone.

"There are a lot of other people who live in this neighborhood but they purposely picked -- two individuals purposely picked on an Asian woman, Asian senior to commit this heinous crime. There's no other reason other than it's a hate crime," community leader Don Lee said.

Police say at the moment there is no evidence she was specifically targeted and no derogatory remarks were made by her assailants.

The suspects were last seen fleeing southbound on 16th Ave.

In the meantime, board members from her community center and other community members have put up a $10,000 reward for any information that may lead to an arrest.

"We want to make sure that we do everything that we can so that these crimes never happen again," Lee said.

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