An elderly Asian couple was carrying their groceries along a Brooklyn street when they were accosted by a man — but fortunately a Good Samaritan and a bus driver nearby were able to prevent them from being harmed.
The older couple was walking along 86th Street in Gravesend around midday Tuesday when the suspect approached them, and tried to intimidate them and yank the shopping bags from their arms, a witness said.
That witness, who did not wish to be identified, then stepped in to help out, yelling at the man to get away from the couple. That's when the Good Samaritan says the suspect then turned his attention to him, and appeared to pull an object from his pocket.
"He got angry at me and asked who the f--- you are," the Good Samaritan said. "I ran, I ran across the street."
Get Tri-state area news and weather forecasts to your inbox. Sign up for NBC New York newsletters.
He said that an MTA bus diver on his break saw what was happening and intervened, literally putting himself between the two.
"Then (the suspect) actually punched him and spat on him," the man said, but the suspect soon ran off after the driver started fighting back. Police arrived shortly after and made the arrest after locating him.
The MTA said it applauds the bus operator for doing the right thing and showing "the best of New York." The Good Samaritan said of the driver, "He's actually the hero of this."
The man said the older couple he initially jumped in to help escaped unharmed. He said he had seen the suspect in the area before and believes the man may be emotionally disturbed. For that reason, he said he didn't believe the attack was racially motivated, but recent attacks on Asian Americans are at the front of his mind.
"I think it's very important for everybody to step up," he said. "There was a lot of passersby and I was screaming at them to call the police, and everybody was just walking by."
Police had not yet released the suspect's name or what charges he would be facing.
That was not the only violence directed toward Asians in the city on Tuesday. Police said that a 35-year-old woman was riding the 7 train near Willets Avenue in Queens around 11:30 a.m. when a suspect walked up to her seat and yelled anti-Asian slurs at her.
The woman took out her cellphone and started to record the man, which led to him swatting the phone out of her hand, police said. The man then stomped on it and threw it away before getting off the next stop, according to police, who were still searching for him.
The incidents come in the wake of other attacks against New York City Asian women just in the past few days. One of the victims was leaving a protest against recent violent attacks towards Asians over the weekend when she became one of three victims of such violence that occurred less than 24 hours apart.
Katie Hou says he and her daughter were walking down Astor Place before noon on Sunday with a sign she had prepared for the rally. That's when a man came up to her and asked her for the sign. Hou said the man took her sign away and tried to cram it in a garbage can. When that didn't work, he threw the sign to the ground and stomped on it.
"I asked 'what are you doing?' And he just walked to me and punched me twice. Right here, and here," Hou said.
In addition to cuts to her face and bruising to her lip, police said Hou sprained her ankle while chasing after the man who disappeared into the Astor Place and 8 Street subway station.
"I didn't have a very good sleep last night. I'm still thinking about this," Hou said.
The NYPD said that the suspect was arrested. Erick Deoliviera, 27, was charged with the hate crime for the attack. The Hate Crimes Task Force said its officers were investigating the incident.
In a separate attack that took place just a few hours later, a 54-year-old woman was walking home Sunday afternoon when someone approached from behind used a metal pipe to hit her in the face. Witnesses said they hear the suspect say "I'm here to f--- up Asians."
The victim, who did not want to be identified, required 15 stitches to treat her injuries. Police said 38-year-old Elias Guerrero was arrested and is facing multiple charges for his alleged role in the attack.
In the third attack on Sunday, police said a man smacked the cellphone of an Asian man to the ground in Flushing, Queens, while using anti-Asian slurs. The 34-year-old victim wasn't injured but his phone was damaged.
There have been around two dozen reported attacks against Asian victims this year, according to the NYPD. There were none at the same time last year.
The violent attacks have become so worrying, it led Wan Chen and two other volunteers to start Public Safety Patrol, a grassroots neighborhood security presence that's grown to dozens in response to the recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.
"It's really painful, no one should go through what we are going through right now," Chen said. "We established Public Safety Patrol because we want our community to be safer."
Over the weekend, hundreds of Asian Americans and allies gathered for another day of protests across New York City. Following the deadly shooting spree at spas near Atlanta early last week, activists rallied in Union Square and Columbus Park to denounce violence, racism, xenophobia and misogyny.
Out of the eight people that were killed, six of the victims were women of Asian descent.
Asian American parents and business owners say they're fearful of their children or places of work being targeted, and many community members are afraid to go out in public.
In response to the recent attacks, the Guardian Angels also said they will be on the streets in the hopes of preventing another incident. A member of the group said they were looking to beef up their presence in Flushing, Queens, and looking to recruit more people to help their cause.