A 67-year-old woman, wearing a white face mask and dark hooded jacket and pushing a shopping cart, enters an apartment building vestibule in Yonkers, NY As she moves to unlock the door, a man comes up behind her and hits her in the head with a roundhouse right hand.
The force of the blow knocks the woman to the ground. As she lies there, her attacker bends down and pummels her repeatedly with both hands for the next minute, more than 125 blows altogether. He then stomps on her seven times and spits on her before walking away.
The sickening assault, captured by a security camera, came after the woman, who is of Asian descent, passed the man on her way into the building, officials said. He called her an anti-Asian, misogynistic slur and she ignored him. Moments later, he attacked her in what officials said was violence driven by anti-Asian bias, yet another incident in a nationwide surge.
On Monday, the Yonkers Police Department and the Westchester County district attorney announced that Tammel Esco, 42, of Yonkers had been charged with attempted murder and assault, both as hate crimes, as a result of the attack, which occurred shortly after 6 pm on Friday.
Mr. Esco was waiting outside the building when police arrived on Friday while the victim, bloodied and writhing in pain, lay on the floor, officials said.
“This is one of the most appalling attacks I have ever seen,” John J. Mueller, the Yonkers police commissioner, said in a statement. “To beat a helpless woman is despicable, and targeting her because of her race makes it more so.”
The woman, whose name was not released, sustained broken bones in her face, bleeding on the brain and numerous cuts and bruises on her head and face, officials said. She was hospitalized in stable condition on Monday, Yonkers police officials said.
Mr. Esco was being held without bail at the Westchester County jail. Online court records indicated that he was being represented by the Legal Aid Society. A representative declined to comment.
He has 14 previous arrests, half of them on felony charges, according to the Yonkers police. He was convicted of assault in 2011, sentenced to just over three years in prison and released on parole after about two and a half years in October 2013, state prison records show.
The vicious assault appeared to be anomalous for Yonkers, where, census figures show, about 7 percent of the 200,000 residents are of Asian descent. Neither the city, which is just north of New York City, nor Westchester County broadly has seen increases in reports of bias crimes targeting those of Asian descent in recent years, officials said.
The experience has been starkly different in New York City and other parts of the United States, where anti-Asian violence has risen sharply during the coronavirus pandemic. From March 19, 2020, through the end of last year, nearly 11,000 hate crimes targeting those of Asian and Pacific Island descent across America were reported to Stop AAPI Hate, an advocacy organization.
In New York City, the police recorded 131 bias incidents against Asians in 2021, up from 28 in 2020 and just three in 2019. Activists have cautioned that the figures may not tell the whole story because bias incidents are not always classified as such or reported to the police.
This month, a 28-year-old man was charged with hate crimes in connection with a two-hour spree of attacks on seven women of Asian descent in Manhattan.
Four Asian New Yorkers have died in recent months after being attacked: a Chinese immigrant who was beaten as he collected cans in East Harlem; a 40-year-old woman who was pushed to her death at the Times Square subway station; a 35-year-old woman who was fatally stabbed by a man who followed her into her Chinatown apartment; and a 61-year-old woman who was attacked as she swept a sidewalk in Corona, Queens, in November.