NEW YORK (Reuters) -New York City police said on Wednesday they arrested a convicted murderer on charges of attacking a 65-year-old Asian woman on a street, an assault captured on a video that went viral amid a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States.
Brandon Elliot, 38, was identified as the man seen in the video kicking the woman to the ground and then kicking her several more times on Monday near Times Square in midtown Manhattan, the New York Police Department said in a statement.
Elliot, who was on lifetime parole after serving a prison term for murdering his mother, faces several assault and hate-crime charges, police said. The NYPD said its Hate Crimes Force had been looking for the assailant since Monday afternoon. Police have said the assailant was heard making anti-Asian statements during the assault.
The New York Times identified the victim of the attack as Vilma Kari, an immigrant from the Philippines, citing a law enforcement source. Police did not immediately confirm her identity. According to the Times, Kari suffered a fractured pelvis.
There has been an increase in hate crimes reported against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Former President Donald Trump often referred to the novel coronavirus as the “China virus” and the “China plague.”
Such crimes rose by 149% in 2020 in 16 major cities compared with 2019, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
Concern over anti-Asian hate crimes was heightened when six Asian women were among eight people fatally shot this month at Atlanta-area spas. A 21-year-old man was charged with the murders. Police have yet to determine a motive.