A man who appears to be targeting Asian women in their 20s and 30s at random in New York City may have been spotted in the East Village Tuesday, hours after authorities linked a fourth case to the disturbing apparent race-based pattern of ambushes, police said.
Authorities converged on the area near East Houston Street and Avenue B shortly after 11 a.m. after someone called 911 to report a possible sighting of the suspect; police were seen viewing photos of the suspected attacker at the scene as they mobilized their search efforts.
New images and video of the suspect were released early Tuesday in connection with the series of attacks on Asian woman in Manhattan since last week. In each case, police say the suspect approaches his victims and hits them in the head with a plastic bag containing a hard object and then runs off. The plastic bag can be seen in surveillance images released by police.
The latest attack was reported on Monday in Chinatown, when the suspect tried to strike up a conversation with a 41-year-old woman on Mulberry Street, authorities say.
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 women described as seemingly harmless, approached the third victim, a 34-year-old woman, at 60th Street and Second Avenue.
That 34-year-old woman says she is afraid he'll strike again.
"At the time he was just normal. He didn't look like angry or anything," the woman told NBC 4 New York, asking that her identity be concealed.
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.
A stranger helped her call police.
The woman needed 10 stitches to close a gash above her eye. She says the wound is so painful that she can't work.
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.
He also attacked another Asian woman on 30th Street and Park Avenue without saying a word.
"I will be scared to go out until police get him," the third victim said. "I'm sure he's going to do this again."
Anyone with information on the attacks is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.