Police filed hate crime charges against the man arrested in the alleged beating of a 68-year-old Asian man aboard a New York City subway last week, officials said Monday.
Narayange Bodhi, who is from Sri Lanka, was commuting on a northbound 1 train to his security job Friday afternoon when was punched in the head in an attack prosecutors say left the man unconscious.
The suspected attacker, 36-year-old Marc Mathieu, was initially arrested on Sunday for assault charges. The NYPD later filed charges for assault as a hate crimes, department officials confirmed Monday.
At Mathieu's arraignment, prosecutors presented second-degree assault charges while their office further investigates the alleged assault as a hate crime. A request for comment was sent to his defense attorney.
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George Okrepkie was sitting across from Bodhi on the train when the suspect threw the punch. Okrepkie, a 9/11 survivor, says he was in shock.
"I could not believe that somebody would attack a man of that age," he said. "Before I could even look he was standing on top of him."
Okrepkie says he was watching something roll across the floor of the train when he heard the suspect appear next to Bodhi and say, "You. You Asian MF."
Okerpkie tried to grab the attacker but said the man escaped out the subway doors as the train came to a stop at the Franklin Street Station in Manhattan. That's when Okrepkie took off his scarf and helped wrap it around Bodhi to stop the bleeding.
Family members tell NBC New York Bodhi suffered bruising on his face and has absolutely no memory of what happened.
The attack comes as New York City and many others parts of the country grapple with a rise in anti-Asian violence. So far this year, the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force has investigated at least 10 cases of hate crimes against Asians.
Hundreds, potentially thousands, of New Yorkers rallied, marched and attended vigils over the weekend to condemn the increase in attacks and honor the victims of the Atlanta-area shootings.