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New York police have arrested a suspected hammer attacker, accused of smashing an Asian man in the head on Tuesday night after a minor row.
Christian Jeffers, 48, who identifies as a woman, was caught on camera in a wig and purple lipstick attacking the 29-year-old at around 9pm at 14th Street station in Manhattan.
On Wednesday, Jeffers was spotted by a transit officer shortly after 2pm, having jumped the turnstile. Jeffers, wearing the same top and jacket but without the wig, and without the blue jeans and red shoes, was taken into custody. A hammer was found in her bag.
She has been charged with second-degree assault, and faces possible hate crimes charges.
The victim, who does not want to be named, said he is fed up with rising crime in the Big Apple – and that he wants his hammer-wielding attacker ‘locked up.’
Christian Jeffers is pictured being arrested on Wednesday evening, on suspicion of attacking a man with a hammer
Jeffers has been charged with second-degree assault and may face hate crimes
Jeffers was detained on Wednesday night, after jumping a turnstile
Police said the attacker was male, about 6-foot-2, wearing a wig, purple lipstick, blue jeans, red shoes and a red jacket, attacked another man with a hammer on a subway platform
The victim, an Asian man, suffered head injuries in the hammer attack at 14th St station in New York City. He is seen in an ambulance
The victim, who remained conscious, was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where police described his condition as stable
The terrifying assault was captured on video.
‘I want to get him locked up because he was pretty aggressive,’ the victim, who chose not to be identified, told the New York Post.
‘He was looking for trouble.
‘We’re trying to live our lives as well as we can, you know, and it’s just unfortunate that we have to face all these adversities, along with just all the struggles in life,’ he added.
The man said the attack took him by surprise and he was in shock when he saw blood running down the side of his head.
‘It happened, like, too quick for me to react…It wasn’t painful,’ he said. ‘I was kind of just shocked and dazed a little bit and trying to process at that time.’
The violent hammer attack is being investigated as a possible hate crime by police.
As of February 27, hate crimes targeting all minorities, not just Asian-Americans, were up more than 142 percent compared with the same period last year.
Footage of the attack shows the suspect pulling the hammer from his bag.
‘Why you hit me?’ the suspect yells before attacking the victim.
‘Why the f*** you hit me?’
After trading words, the attacker took out a hammer and struck the victim on the head before fleeing the scene.
The victim, who remained conscious, was taken to Bellevue Hospital.
Police described Jeffers as male, about 6-foot-2, wearing a wig, purple lipstick, blue jeans, red shoes and a red jacket, and carrying a tote bag.
The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force has been notified of the assault, although it is not known if the attack was motivated by anti-Asian bias, police added.
New York City has, however, seen a huge rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, with police figures showing a 343 percent rise during the Covid pandemic.
This follows a string of horrific incidents in Manhattan, including a homeless man who confessed to fatally shoving an Asian woman in front of subway train at Times Square and a 65-year-old woman who was kicked and stomped on by a man yelling anti-Asian slurs.
NYPD investigators say an incident at 14th Street station in Manhattan on Tuesday night, which left an Asian man with head injuries, is being investigated as a possible hate crime
The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force has been notified of the assault, although it is not known if the attack was motivated by anti-Asian bias
Police describe the suspect as male, about 6-foot-2, wearing a wig, purple lipstick, blue jeans, red shoes and a red jacket, and carrying a tote bag
It follows a string of horrific incidents in Manhattan, including a homeless man confessing to fatally shoving an Asian woman in front of subway train at Times Square, and a 65-year-old woman who was kicked and stomped on by a man yelling anti-Asian slurs
Asian Americans have experienced a 343 percent increase in hate crimes in 2021 with 133 attacks. Hispanics are also seeing a rise in attacks with eight attacks happening in 2021, compared to one in 2020
Last week, police arrested a suspect who allegedly kicked city health worker Nina Rothschild, 58, down the stairs outside the station in Queens Plaza and repeatedly hit her head with a hammer.
Denise Alston, 57, of Queens, was arrested Friday night after police said she used Rothschild’s credit card a day after the attack.
Also last week, police launched a hunt for a man suspected of going on a two-hour assault spree targeting seven Asian woman.
In February, New York City Mayor Eric Adams ousted Jessica Corey, the head of the NYPD’s hate crimes unit, which has made arrests in fewer than half of all reported incidents.
‘We were too slow in investigating [crimes] as possible hate crimes,’ Adams said Monday as he commented on Corey’s ouster. ‘I wanted a new face there, a new vision.’
During the month of February, the NYPD reported a 58.7 percent increase in total crime. The latest figures showed 9,138 incidents as opposed to 5,759 in 2021 – with double-digit surges in nearly every major category
Only 219 people were arrested for hate crimes last year, though there were 524 such complaints. In 2020, there were 265 complaints and 93 arrests
What does Adams’s subway safety plan for NYC look like?
The mayor’s plan lays out how the Adams administration, in partnership with the MTA and other state entities, will confront these concurrent challenges on New York City’s subway systems. Investments in people will provide immediate support and protection to New Yorkers, while investments in places like drop-in-centers, safe havens, stabilization beds, and Street Homeless Outreach Wellness vans, as well as policy changes at local, state, and federal levels will provide medium- and long-term solutions. These include:
- Deploying up to 30 Joint Response Teams that bring together DHS, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYPD, and community-based providers in high-need locations across the city
- Training NYPD officers in the city’s subway system to enforce the MTA and New York City Transit Authority’s rules of conduct in a fair and transparent way
- Expanding Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division ‘B-HEARD’ teams to six new precincts, more than doubling the precincts covered to 11. These teams will expand on the already-successful pilot of answering non-violent 911 mental health calls with mental health professionals
- Incorporating medical services into DHS sites serving individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Expanded DHS Safe Havens and stabilization bed programs will offer on-site physical and behavioral health care to immediately address clients’ needs
- Immediately improving coordination across government with weekly ‘Enhanced Outreach Taskforce’ meetings that bring together senior leaders from 13 city and state agencies to address issues quickly
- Creating new Drop-in-Centers to provide an immediate pathway for individuals to come indoors, and exploring opportunities to site Drop-in-Centers close to key subway stations to directly transition individuals from trains and platforms to safe spaces
- Streamlining the placement process into supportive housing and reducing the amount of paperwork it takes to prove eligibility
- Calling on state government to expand psychiatric bed resources and amending Kendra’s Law to improve mental health care delivery for New Yorkers on Assisted Outpatient Treatment
- Requiring — instead of requesting — everyone to leave the train and the station at the end of the line
There has also been a nearly 60 per cent spike in general crime over last year.
The attack comes almost two weeks after New York City started its new ‘Subway Safety Plan’, a 17-page program to fight the massive spike in transit crime in the still-recovering city.
According to the latest data from the New York City Police Department, since the beginning of the year, there have been 276 instances of crime in the subway system, which represent a 65 percent increase compared to the same period in 2021.
Adams’s plan involves sending more police, mental health clinicians and social service outreach workers into the subways. Levy said Monday that a ‘phased-in’ implementation was beginning.
The plan notes that more than 1,000 homeless people who use the subways for shelter need help, not handcuffs, but says police will have a zero-tolerance policy and will crack down on sleeping, littering, smoking, doing drugs or hanging out in the system.
It calls for clearing all passengers out of trains at the ends of their lines, an approach that has waxed and waned over the years.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which runs the subways, ‘knows that there are people in the subway system who need help and must and will be helped.
‘But they can’t stay in the subway system,’ spokesperson Aaron Donovan said.
Adams did not give any specific details and timelines on his plan’s progress last month, and given the chronic shortage of housing options that are mostly priced at an affordable rate for people who choose to live in the subway, it was unclear where those who found a home underground would go if they are evicted, if won’t be the streets.
Details on the plan’s cost or how it would be paid remain scarce.
Shelly Nortz, a deputy executive director of the nonprofit Coalition for the Homeless, cautioned against ‘criminalizing homelessness and mental illness’ and suggested the city was falling back on policing strategies that had failed in the past.
However, she welcomed arrangements within the plan that call for more psychiatric inpatient beds to be made available, as well as shelters with private rooms and supportive housing, which comes with on-site social services.
In recent years, the city has veered between responding to concerns about crime in the subways and complaints about heavy-handed policing there.
The last mayor, Democrat Bill de Blasio, at times deployed more police into the system. So did Adams, just last month.
The precise number of homeless people living in the subway is unknown, but an annual survey in January 2021 shared an estimated figure at 1,300 — and that was when the subway system would be closed for four hours every night for disinfecting.
The number of homeless people in the system is believed to have increased ever since.
Prior to the pandemic, 1,700 people were living in the subway in January 2020.