Daughter says bystander distracted assailant in attack on Asian American woman

The daughter of the Asian American woman assaulted earlier this week in New York City wrote that an unidentified bystander distracted the assailant by screaming during the attack. 

The bystander, who was not seen on the surveillance video, “yelled and screamed to get the assailant’s attention” from across the street as a man attacked 65-year-old Vilma Kari, her daughter Elizabeth Kari wrote on a GoFundMe for her mother. 

“To this person, I understand your decision in remaining anonymous during this time,” Elizabeth Kari wrote. “I want to THANK YOU for stepping in and doing the right thing.”

“This gesture of action is what we need in our world right now,” she continued. “I hope one day, my mom and I can thank you personally.”

The Associated Press first reported Elizabeth Kari’s comments on Thursday evening, saying GoFundMe verified the authenticity of the account. 

Vilma Kari, who emigrated from the Philippines, was kicked in the stomach and knocked to the ground after being approached by a man outside of a building in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. The man then stomped on her face and “made anti-Asian statements” during the attack, police said.

Her daughter wrote that the widely viewed clip of the surveillance video cut off as the suspect headed away from her mother toward the anonymous bystander. 

Vilma Kari suffered serious injuries including a fractured pelvis but was released from the hospital on Tuesday and is “safe and in good spirits,” her daughter said. 

“Although the healing process will not be easy, she has always been a resilient role model for me,” she said. “We are hopeful that in time she will make a full recovery.”

The GoFundMe initially had a goal to raise $20,000 but has collected more than $141,000 as of Thursday night. Besides her mother’s care, Elizabeth Kari said her mother wants to donate a portion of the money to help other victims and to organizations that support the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. 

The New York Police Department (NYPD) announced on Wednesday the arrest of suspect Brandon Elliot, 38, who has been charged with assault and attempted assault as hate crimes. 

Employees inside the apartment complex near where the attack happened have been scrutinized for not immediately stepping in to help Vilma Kari, sparking their suspension as the property developer and manager, the Brodsky Organization investigates. 

A longer version of the video reportedly shows the workers waiting in the lobby for a minute before going up to Vilma Kari, and police arrive a minute after that, according to the AP. The workers’ union SEIU 32BJ defended the employees saying they waited to go to the victim and get police because they thought the suspect had a knife. 

Violence against Asian Americans has seen an uptick during the coronavirus pandemic after COVID-19 was originally discovered in Wuhan, China. Last month, a shooting at three Atlanta-area spas left eight people dead, including six Asian women. 

Tags AAPI Anti-Asian violence Asian Americans bystander GoFundMe Hate crimes New York New York City

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