A 42-year-old Yonkers man has been arrested on attempted murder as a hate crime and other charges in the vicious caught-on-camera beating of a 67-year-old Asian woman who was attacked as she returned home last week, police said Monday.
Cops responding to a call around 6:15 p.m. Friday for reports of a dispute found the victim bloodied in the vestibule of her building. The suspect, identified as Tammel Esco, was still outside.
According to the investigation, the victim simply passed by Esco on her way home and he yelled a racial slur at her. She ignored him.
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When she moved to unlock the second door to enter the lobby, the suspect punched her in the head from behind, knocking her to the floor, then proceeded to punch her in the head and face more than 125 times with alternating fist strikes before foot-stomping her seven times and spitting on her, police say.
The victim suffered facial bone fractures, brain bleeding and multiple contusions and lacerations to her head. She remains hospitalized and is expected to survive.
A witness said she called 911 when she saw Esco punching the woman while on top of her — and that witness' interference may be the only reason the victim is still alive.
"I started knocking on the door, and when I did that it caught his attention, and that's when he got off of her," said Yvette Crespo. "He went out that door, went to the corner, put his hands up," and roared, she said.
Esco, who lives in the building along with the victim, was taken into custody without incident at the scene and later remanded to Westchester County Jail pending his next court appearance. Attorney information for him wasn't immediately clear.
Police said that Esco has a criminal record and has previously served time for assault.
Yonkers officials condemned the attack.
"Hate crimes are beyond intolerable in our city. I applaud our Yonkers Police for swiftly apprehending this violent criminal and removing him from our streets," Mayor Mike Spano said in a statement Monday. "I expect the suspect to be charged to the fullest extent of the law for his heinous actions. I continue to keep the victim and her family in our thoughts and prayers."
Yonkers Police Commissioner John Mueller called it one of the most appalling attacks he has ever seen.
"To beat a helpless woman is despicable and targeting her because of her race makes it more so," Mueller said. "This defendant must be held to the maximum punishment allowed by law to send a clear message that hateful, violent behavior will not be tolerated in our communities. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and her family, that she may make a full recovery."
Crimes against Asian Americans have been up in New York and elsewhere since the pandemic hit. A recent national survey from the group "Stop AAPI Hate" found more than 10,000 incidents reported in the last two years alone.
Race was, by far, the most common reason for a discriminatory incident to occur, listed as a reason in 91.5% of the 10,905 reports.