Asian man recalls unprovoked attack at Manhattan subway station

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Thursday, March 4, 2021
Man describes harrowing, unprovoked attack at subway station
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In this Eyewitness News exclusive, NJ Burkett interviews an Asian man who was beaten at a Lower East Side subway station Tuesday night.

CHINATOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Police are investigating yet another unprovoked attack on a person of Asian descent, this time in a subway station on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

It happened just before 9 p.m. Tuesday at the East Broadway F train station near Rutgers Street.

Eyewitness News obtained exclusive surveillance video of the incident, which shows the assailant waiting until the 56-year-old victim walks past him to launch the attack.

He punches the victim and pushes him to the ground, where he punches him in the eye and elbows him in the mouth repeatedly.

The construction worker, Teoh Ming Soon, is an immigrant from Malaysia and has been in the U.S. for about 20 years.

He says he was walking home from work when the unprovoked attack happened and he barely even saw his assailant.

"Too fast, I cannot remember anything. Too fast, it happened," Soon said.

The attack was over in seconds and police say the suspect fled into the station where surveillance cameras captured his face.

The victim suffered non-life-threatening head injuries and was transported via EMS in stable condition to NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, where he was treated and released.

"I don't know. I don't know why he attacked me. Maybe because I'm Asian?" Soon said.

There was no obvious motive for the attack. Detectives converged on the neighborhood Wednesday, canvassing residents and shopkeepers for clues determined to identify the attacker.

The NYPD is investigating as a possible hate crime.

There are no arrests at this time, but police released a photo of the suspect they are looking for.

Police are offering a $2,500 reward for any information leading to his arrest.

RELATED: Asian-Americans demand alleged Chinatown stabber be charged with hate crime

The incident comes amid a spate of attacks on Asians in New York City, with residents on edge.

A rally was held outside the Manhattan District Attorney's Office Monday to demand the man charged in the stabbing of an Asian man in Chinatown be prosecuted as a hate crime.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about all of these recent attacks against Asian Americans and if some of these incidents have more to do with mental health or crimes of opportunity, and if adding hate crime charges would add to racial tensions.

"We can't prejudge each incident, we need the facts," he said. "But that said, there is clearly a horrible trend right now, disgusting trend in this city and in this nation of attacks on Asian Americans. Most horribly what we saw in San Francisco, (where a) man was killed just walking down the street. No provocation, no reason, just killed because he was Asian American."

Still, the string of recent violence against persons of Asian descent has many living in fear.

Jennifer Tam is the co-founder of the grassroots organization, "Welcome to Chinatown."

"In normal times, I'd be going for an outdoor run, grabbing groceries, grabbing dinner, something like that," she said. "I don't that anymore."

Tam says after the Chinatown stabbing, waking up the next day felt different.

"It's impossible to go around the neighborhood without sensing some sort of fear," she said. "And we've been feeling this way for the last year or so...I've never felt unsafe living in Chinatown until the last year, seeing what has happened to friends, to our elderly community."

RELATED | Asian Hate Crime Task Force working to combat slew of bias crimes in NYC


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