xi's moments
Home | Americas

Suspect charged in assault of Chinese man on NYC street

By MINLU ZHANG in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-04-28 08:57

A 49-year-old man was arrested and charged with attempted murder and a hate crime on Tuesday in an attack on a 61-year-old Chinese immigrant in Manhattan who has since been in a coma, police said.

Jarrod Powell of New York was taken into custody on Monday thanks to tips from the community who identified him as the suspect, police said. Detectives were told Powell was seen at a homeless shelter near where the attack unfolded in East Harlem, and they made the arrest Monday.

Police initially said they had charged Powell with two counts of assault, but they upgraded the charges Tuesday afternoon to attempted murder and assault as a hate crime.

The victim, Yaopan Ma, was pushing a grocery cart full of bottles and cans on Friday night at Third Avenue and East 125th Street when he was attacked from behind and collapsed onto the sidewalk, police said.

A video released by the NYPD showed Ma's attacker stomping on his head and kicking him numerous times in the face before running away.

Ma and his wife immigrated to New York two years ago from South China's Guangdong province and moved to Harlem after their Chinatown apartment burned down.

In September, Ma, who had worked as a pastry chef in China, lost his job at a Chinese restaurant in an industry decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Collecting bottles and cans was how he helped support his family.

Ma was rushed to Harlem Hospital in critical condition and is in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator, his wife, Baozhen Chen, told news outlets. He has suffered a cerebral contusion and facial fractures.

The ABC-TV News affiliate in New York City reported Tuesday that Powell is homeless and has a lengthy, violent arrest record. According to the report, on Jan 25, 1998, he kidnapped a 23-year-old woman on Staten Island and sexually assaulted her. He was charged with kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, sexual misconduct and assault. He also has been arrested for fare evasion on the subway eight times from 2002 to 2004.

In February 2006, he was charged with assault at the Port Authority Bus Terminal twice, and in July 2006, Powell assaulted a fellow inmate with a food tray at the Rikers Island jail and then punched the victim, according to the ABC report.

When he was arrested Tuesday, police said Powell claimed that he was beaten and robbed the night before Ma's assault, by a group of Korean and Chinese men, including the victim, according to the New York Daily News. The attack on Ma was payback, Powell said.

But police said Powell never reported the incident, and detectives believe he was trying to justify targeting Ma.

Several GoFundMe accounts have been set up for Ma, two of which had raised more than $550,000 as of 8 pm ET Tuesday.

Political leaders and community advocates gathered Tuesday afternoon to denounce hate and violence and called for justice for Ma. They stood alongside a picture of him in a hospital bed.

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.

The NYPD has received 66 reports of anti-Asian incidents this year, a spokeswoman said, more than five times the 12 incidents reported in the same period last year, and more than double the 28 recorded in all of 2020.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has called on the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist in the investigation.

"I'm sickened to learn of yet another bigoted act of violence against an Asian American man," Cuomo said in a statement Sunday. "This is not who we are as New Yorkers, and we will not let these cowardly acts of hate against members of our New York family intimidate us."

"You know, as a New Yorker, it's really hard to watch and to see New Yorkers turning on each other like that," Jo-Ann Yoo, the executive director of the Asian American Federation, told CBS New York on Sunday during a protest near where the attack took place.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349