The NYPD is stepping up security in East Harlem after a 57-year-old man was assaulted and robbed inside an elevator Saturday -- the eighth in a series of violent elevator robberies in the area targeting people of Asian descent.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said officers from the city's hate crime task force and officers fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese have been assigned to the neighborhood.
The man in Saturday's robbery suffered a broken nose in the attack inside a building on East 97th Street. The mugger took $200 from the victim, along with his wallet and his cell phone. The victim was treated and released from Metropolitan Hospital.
On Thursday, police said a 27-year-old woman was assaulted and robbed in an elevator in her apartment building on the Upper East Side. Once inside the elevator, the suspect attacked the woman, then fled with her purse and iPhone.
Police have released surveillance video of the suspect, taken after the first attack, reported on Jan. 17.
In every robbery, the suspect follows the victims into an elevator and assaults them, punching them in the face and head. The suspect then forcefully takes valuables like cell phones, wallets, keys and cash, before running away.
The victims have ranged in age from 27 to 64 years old.
On Saturday, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito and other community leaders held a press conference in East Harlem denouncing the attacks.
“This kind of violence against our Asian-American neighbors, and against any members of our community, will not be tolerated,” said Mark-Viverito. “This attacker must be stopped, and we need the entire community to remain vigilant until he is apprehended."
The suspect in the first seven incidents is described as being between 25 to 35 years old, 200 to 240 pounds, and was last seen wearing a black jacket and blue jeans.
Anyone who recognizes the suspect pictured in the surveillance photo is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS or at nypdcrimestoppers.com.