A robbery at an apparent gambling den in the basement of a Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn turned deadly when one of the suspect's stabbed a good Samaritan who police say tried to stop a fight that spilled out onto the street.
The incident happened Friday night around 9:30 p.m. in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. According to police sources familiar with the investigation, a group of suspects burst into the purported den and robbed the men of cash and cell phones. As they fled, the proprietor and others fought back.
One victim, a 46-year-old male, died at NYU Langone-Brooklyn. Family of the victim say he was returning home from a nearby restaurant where he was celebrating the lunar new year. Witness accounts confirmed by police say the man tried to step in and stop the fight between the robbery suspects and their victims.
Two others had non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to the same hospital. A fourth person with one stab wound was treated at the scene.
Police are investigating how the robbers knew of the alleged gambling den's existence.
Despite the victims, there was no immediate evidence that Friday night's attack was connected to the alarming spike in assaults against the Asian community in recent days.
Just last week, the NYPD said there were five attacks in two days on Asian Americans throughout the five boroughs. One of those included a 52-year-old woman who was thrown into newsstands in Queens. The suspect in that attack was later caught after video was shared on social media.
Police on Friday also released surveillance footage that shows an Asian woman attacked and robbed in Flushing on Tuesday. In the video, the woman is grabbed from behind by a man, then thrown to the ground before being punched repeatedly, kicked and dragged.
The suspect is seen on the video taking off running with the woman's purse. However, a source told NBC New York that there is no indication that the attack is a hate crime.
The NYPD formed an Asian Hate Crimes Task Force just last year to investigate crimes against the Asian community, which had increased amid the pandemic. In 2019, there were three cases of violence against Asians reported — that number spiked to nearly 30 in 2020.
It's not just NYC where the anti-Asian sentiment has led to violence. There have been at least 18 attacks on Asian Americans in San Francisco in February alone.