Suspect arrested in vicious, unprovoked assault on Asian man in Manhattan

EAST HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- Police have made an arrest in the assault of a 61-year-old Asian man who is now fighting for his life.

Authorities say 49-year-old Jarrod Powell was taken into custody thanks to tips from the community, who identified him as the suspect who stomped the victim in East Harlem in a vicious unprovoked attack.

Detectives were told Powell was seen at a nearby shelter on East 125th Street, and they made the arrest Monday. Charges against him were upgraded Tuesday to attempted murder and two counts of assault as a hate crime.

The victim's family says Yao Pan Ma remains in a coma, and after news of the arrest spread, the community came together to support the family.

"As New Yorkers, we shouldn't tolerate it," Assemblyman Ron Kim said. "We come here to say, stop targeting, scapegoating and killing Asian Americans."

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The complaint charges that Terrell Harper used anti-Asian slurs and even threatened Detective Vincent Chung's mother on March 11.

Ma's wife was at the event but was too upset to speak. Instead, community activist Karlin Chan passed along her message.

"The Ma family understands this is the act of a single depraved individual and has nothing to do with the community of Harlem at large," Chan said.

Ma, a Chinese immigrant, was collecting cans on Third Avenue and 125th Street in East Harlem Friday night when he was attacked from behind and repeatedly stomped on as he laid helpless on the ground.

A bus driver called the police after seeing him unconscious.

Ma's niece says he immigrated to New York two years ago and moved to Harlem after their Chinatown apartment burned down, and he recently lost his job to COVID. Collecting cans was how he helped to support his family.

"We are completely in shock -- terrified and scared and frustrated," she said. "My uncle is a very quiet person, very hardworking. He's not the person to cause trouble."

According to recent NYPD statistics, hate crimes are up 45% against Asians.

Powell has a lengthy and violent arrest record. In January 25, 1998, he kidnapped 23-year-old woman from an apartment on Staten Island, took her to another location and sexually assaulted her. He was charged with kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, sexual misconduct, sex assault.

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A 25-year-old woman, who asked not to show her face or use her name, was on the receiving end of an attack while enjoying outdoor dining with a friend in Chinatown.

He was then arrested for fare evasion on the subway in July 2002, November 2003, December 2003, twice in January 2004, April 2004, November 2004, and December 2004.

In February of 2006, he was arrested for assault at the Port Authority Bus Terminal twice, and in July of 2006, Powell assaulted a fellow inmate with a food tray at Rikers Island and then punched the victim.

When asked about the recent attack, Powell told reporters he didn't assault anyone and that the victim actually attacked him.

Those now standing firmly with and by the family say they will not tolerate violence against any ethnic group.

"It is hate, it is racism, and any form, we can not tolerate it," Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez said. "As Latinos, we can't tolerate it, as African Americans, we cannot tolerate it, as New Yorkers, we shouldn't tolerate it."

Click here if you would like to help the victim and his family.

Bail for Powell was set at $100,000 cash/$300,000 insurance company bond/$300,000 partially secured surety bond. He is due back in court on May 3.

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