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NY man charged in ‘brutal hate crime’ after Asian woman punched 125 times

Click to play video: 'Police release video of ‘brutal hate crime’ as elderly Asian woman assaulted in Yonkers, NY' Police release video of ‘brutal hate crime’ as elderly Asian woman assaulted in Yonkers, NY
WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC VIOLENCE. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED. – Mar 15, 2022

A 67-year-old Asian woman was walking home to her building in Yonkers, New York when she was attacked by a man in what police are calling a “brutal hate crime.”

Tammel Esco, 42, has been arrested and charged with attempted murder after punching the woman more than 125 times, stomping on her seven times, then spitting on her.

Police report that the woman saw her attacker in front of the building where she lived. As she walked by him, he called her an “Asian b–ch.” When the woman ignored the slur, the perpetrator proceeded to follow her into the vestibule of the building where he knocked her to the ground.

The Yonkers resident suffered “multiple contusion and lacerations to her head and face, facial bone fractures, and bleeding on the brain” as a result of the beating. Police say she is currently in stable condition and recovering in hospital.

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Read more: Hidden Hate: Exposing the roots of anti-Asian racism in Canada

Yvette Crespo, another resident of the building, told NBC New York that she called 911 when she noticed the man attacking someone in the vestibule. She may be the only reason the perpetrator stopped the beating.

“I started knocking on the door, and when I did that it caught his attention, and that’s when he got off of her,” Crespo explained. “He went out that door, went to the corner, (and) put his hands up.”

When police made it to the scene, they transported the unidentified Asian woman to a local trauma centre and located Esco outside the building. They took him into custody without incident.

Esco has been charged with one count of attempted murder as a hate crime and one count of assault as a hate crime.

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Yonkers Police Commissioner John Mueller commented on the incident, saying: “This is one of the most appalling attacks I have ever seen; to beat a helpless woman is despicable and targeting her because of her race makes it more so. This defendant must be held to the maximum punishment allowed by law to send a clear message that hateful, violent behaviour will not be tolerated in our communities.”

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Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano echoed those sentiments about holding the suspect accountable to the fullest extent of the law. He declared that “hate crimes are beyond intolerable in our city,” and said he is keeping the woman and her family in his “thoughts and prayers.”

Mueller also told CBS News that Esco has 14 prior arrests and multiple convictions.

Read more: Canadians must stand up against ‘unacceptable’ rise in anti-Asian racism: minister

Other tenants of the building say Esco is a resident. One such resident told ABC 7, “I had an altercation with him, me not physically, but something he did to my granddaughter.”

They explained that Esco “stalked her and threw her through that window over there.”

The attack has left other Asian people in the area fearing for their safety.

Olivia Solano told CBS News, “I come home at 9 p.m., I have to be always watching whoever is there, you know?”

Another neighbour, Sken Shabaj, also spoke to CBS News, saying of the woman who was attacked: “She’s very, very nice … Two daughters … Her husband passed. He was a mailman, I remember that.”

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Esco is being held without bail at the Westchester County Jail and is next due in court on March 25.

This attack comes roughly one month after the murder of Christina Yuna Lee, which in turn came about a month after the Jan. 15 murder of Michelle Go. Both were Asian-Americans living in New York.

March 16 marks the one-year anniversary of the Atlanta spa shooting in which a gunman killed eight people in three massage parlours — six of whom were Asian-American women.

Read more: Coronavirus: Asian-Americans turn to guns, GoPros to deter attacks

In Canada, police-reported hate crimes against East or Southeast Asian people rose by 301 per cent in 2021, amounting to 202 incidents. Hate crimes against South Asian populations rose by 47 per cent, or 38 additional incidents.

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A recent University of Victoria study found that two-thirds of first and second-generation Chinese Canadians had some experience with being treated disrespectfully. About one-third said that they had been personally threatened or intimidated. More than a quarter of the 874 respondents said they had been physically attacked.

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