The suspect wanted in a string of recent attacks on Asian women in Manhattan has been found dead of an apparent suicide inside a basement on the Upper East Side, law enforcement sources said.
The suspect, 25-year-old Tyrell Shaw, apparently hanged himself and was found in an elevator shaft on the 700 block of Madison Avenue, according to the sources. The body was positively identified as Shaw's.
He is believed to have been dead for several days. Sources familiar with the investigation say the building super found him in the bottom of the elevator shaft, and he was wearing a silver space suit-type outfit. It wasn't clear how Shaw managed to access the building and the elevator shaft.
Shaw's passport and a suicide note were discovered near his body, the sources said, though the nature of the note wasn't clear.
A woman who works in an office inside the building said a stench had wafted from the near the elevator in the last few days.
"This morning it smelled horrible. It still smells bad, and the lights are on in the basement," Karen Bennet said Monday, the day the body was found.
Police said the suspect began attacking Asian women earlier this month in Chinatown. In the first case, on June 10, he asked a 35-year-old woman, "Who is the president of the United States?" police said. When she didn't respond, police said, he walked away, then returned with a white plastic bag containing a hard object and hit her in the face.
About four hours later, a 29-year-old Asian woman was walking down Park Avenue near East 30th Street when the suspect walked past her and waited at the corner, police said. He hit her in the face with the bag when she reached the corner; she was treated at a hospital and released.
Two days later, on June 12, the same suspect attacked a 34-year-old woman walking near Second Avenue and East 60th Street. As in the earlier cases, he walked up to her, armed with the white bag containing the hard object, and bashed her in the forehead. She also was treated at a hospital.
The woman in that case said the man spoke to her, saying, "All Asian girls doesn't talk to me," the victim told NBC 4 New York. She said he complained he could never get their phone numbers; she said she ignored him.
"And then, just after next second, he just hit my face," the woman said.
She said she chased the man after the attack, but stopped when she realized she was covered in blood. The woman needed 10 stitches to close a gash above her eye. She said the wound is so painful that she can't work.
The most recent attack was on June 15, when police said the suspect tried to strike up a conversation with a 41-year-old Asian woman on Mulberry Street. She ignored him and he left, but returned, this time with a gray bag containing a hard object, and whacked her in the face with it.
None of the victims were seriously injured in the attacks.
Police had also briefly investigated whether Shaw was the man who allegedly followed two women for about an hour a few days before the first attack, but sources later said it didn't appear those cases were connected to the pattern.
Authorities were also investigating whether Shaw was the man who wrote online that he decided to begin a violent onslaught because he wanted "to give all Asian Women a legitimate reason to hate" him.
The writer of the blog said he would begin attacking women after following two women in SoHo and being rejected by other Asian women. He said he was growing frustrated after talking to nearly 1,500 Asian women in less than a year.
"By starting an independent civil war where I will hit over a million Asian Women in the face with a stick will change history,"he wrote.
"Heres my plan: Every Asian Woman by herself must be hit in the face. I may even take a photo before hitting them. The reason is because I don’t think Asian Women like me and that specific one or two or three may have never met me. So I think its brilliant to give all Asian Women a legitimate reason to hate me," the person continued.
In a post dated June 17, the blogger wrote: "I just couldn’t understand why Asian Women didn’t find me attractive. Suddenly, I assumed the ones that I am attracted to use cocaine so I decided to play a game. Bash Asian Women in the Nose so that they could stop sniffing cocaine and give me a chance. At first I thought I could get away with 1 Million Noses, but at 6th victim I felt a little discouraged. I didn’t even expect to bash The Dry cleaning lady in the mouth. She went overboard with the verbal abuse. That was actually my day off from playing the Nose Game. Yeah, thats what I’ll call it 'The Nose Game.' She asked for it."
The post ended: "Inform NYPD they could stop searching for me because I’m going to commit suicide. Actually, I’ve already tied a noose to the bottom of an elevator and I’m going to wait until someone pushes a button so that its not considered a practical suicide. This is actually murder. Thank you. I love you."
Shaw had been arrested 10 times in the city since 2006 for an array of offenses, including credit card theft, criminal trespassing and burglary, records show. Sources have said he was involved in four prior domestic cases; three of them involved arguments with family members and one stemmed from a fight with a girlfriend.
Police also encountered him several times when responding to reports of an emotionally disturbed person; in April, they responded after he was running into oncoming traffic on 10th Avenue, putting himself and others in danger, law enforcement sources said.
The woman who works in the building where Shaw was found recognized him in a photo shown to her by NBC 4 New York. Karen Bennet said a co-worker found Shaw hiding inside a closet last October; he had apparently been squatting there for about six months. When the co-worker threatened to call police, Shaw fled, Bennet said.
He was captured on the building's security camera, and the building upgraded its security cameras afterward, Bennet said.
Police received a tip through their Crime Stoppers hotline and identified Shaw as a suspect after they released surveillance video from one of the incidents. When investigators combed through his social media accounts, including his blog, they realized he "has a rejection issue with females," NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.
Boyce said detectives were trying to find him, but they hit a wall when Shaw turned off his phone.
"He's kind of tough to look for," Boyce said. "This is no dope."
Shaw was found dead before police could arrest him. The medical examiner will determine an official cause of death.