A man was walking through Central Park with his family last weekend when a stranger came up and harassed his wife before punching him in broad daylight.
The 38-year-old victim, who did not wish to be identified, was with his wife and 5-year-old son at the time of the incident by the Hernshead Rocks on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
“You can tell that something just wasn’t right,” the victim recalled in an interview with Eyewitness News. “He was sorta pacing back and forth through this area and he was just kind of muttering to himself.”
It appeared sexual in nature and made his wife extremely uncomfortable, the victim said.
The family tried to back away from the man three times to no avail. The suspect stalked closely behind and eventually cornered them between a lake and rocks where the situation turned violent.
“Now he’s really in my face and I asked him really politely ‘hey let’s practice social distance, you don’t have a mask on, it’s a pretty big park, let’s practice social distance.’ And then he muttered something to me and said well ‘You got a mask. That’s an advantage,’” the victim recalled.
He said the man also added, “You guys always have the advantage,” before he sucker-punched the victim in the face and ran off.
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“I was seeing stars for a bit, but my first concern was for my family, I want to make sure they get to safety,” the victim said. “I thought it was sweat, but at that point there was just blood running down my face, like profusely. And I felt my face temporarily and it just felt like it was completely dislodged.”
The victim says he isn’t angry at the incident because “there’s no room for hate.”
Police haven’t found any evidence that the attack was a hate crime but are not ruling out the possibility.
“It’s hard to tell if this was motivated by race, however we believe that we were targeted, and whether it’s through the fetishes of Asian women in general and sort of the stereotypes they carry, we believe that it’s worth it for us to speak up,” the victim said.
A witness was able to capture a photo of the suspect, which the victim hopes the police will release.
The incident follows a rise in anti-Asian violence reported throughout the country. In Manhattan alone, two people have been arrested on anti-Asian hate crime charges within the past week.
Feature Image via @cefaan