A man who appears to have targeted four Asian women in their 20s and 30s at random in New York City may have followed two other women for more than an hour earlier this month, sources tell NBC 4 New York.
An Asian woman told detectives in Lower Manhattan that she was approached by the suspect on June 7, who asked if he could take a photo of her and her friend, sources tell NBC 4 New York.
After the picture, the man followed the pair for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, detectives said. The women couldn't shake the man and began to fear for their safety, sources say, eventually asking the man to stop following them. The suspect then told the pair he was a "film producer" and started recording video of them with his cellphone.
Sources say that the man didn't attack the women or use ethnic slurs, but detectives are looking into whether the encounter could be connected to the four attacks on Asian women across Manhattan in recent weeks.
Police say the man began attacking Asian women last week in Chinatown, where he asked a 35-year-old, "Who is the president of the United States?" When she didn't respond, police say he hit her in the face with the bag.
Police said the woman ignored him and he left, but he later returned and struck her in the face with a gray bag containing a hard object before fleeing on foot. The victim was taken to New York Downtown Hospital, where she was treated and released.
In the third attack, on Friday on the Upper East Side, the suspect, whom the woman described as seemingly harmless, approached the third victim, a 34-year-old woman, at 60th Street and Second Avenue.
But the situation escalated quickly.
"He said, 'All Asian girls doesn't talk to me.' He can never get their phone number. I just ignore him. I didn't say anything," she said. "And then, just after next second, he just hit my face."
She said she chased the man after the attack, but stopped when she realized she was covered in blood.
"I was running, but my blood was coming over my face and I couldn't see," she said.
The woman needed 10 stitches to close a gash above her eye. She says the wound is so painful that she can't work.
He also attacked another Asian woman on 30th Street and Park Avenue without saying a word.
Anyone with information on the attacks is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.