89-Year-Old Chinese American Woman Set on Fire in NYC


An 89-year-old Chinese American woman was set on fire in New York earlier this month.

The incident, which caught two male suspects on camera, occurred near 16th Ave. and 77th St. in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn around 6:45 p.m. on July 14.

Surveillance video shows the suspects walking in the area with their faces covered. They allegedly approached the victim, who just stepped out of her home.

One of the men allegedly slapped the victim on the face first. When she moved away, they set the back of her shirt on fire with a match or a lighter.

Image Screenshot via New York Police Department

The victim rubbed her back against a wall as soon as she realized she was in flames. Fortunately, she did not suffer serious injuries and the suspects did not try to steal her wallet or her phone.

However, she did not disclose the incident to her family until the next day, since she did not want them to worry.

A neighbor who witnessed the attack later checked on the victim and learned that she did not speak much English.

“I just saw these two kids push her for nothing. She was looking in the garden,” Maria Castellano told CBS 2. “No reason at all. I mean, she didn’t do nothing. Why are you pushing the poor woman?”

The victim’s burned shirt. Image via CeFaan Kim of ABC 7

Police are still trying to figure out the suspects’ motive for the attack. Board members of the victim’s local community, the Homecrest Bensonhurst Neighborhood Senior Center, announced a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest.

“There are a lot of other people who live in this neighborhood but they purposely picked — two individuals purposely picked on an Asian woman, Asian senior to commit this heinous crime. There’s no other reason other than it’s a hate crime,” community leader Don Lee told ABC 7.

The suspects were last seen heading southbound on 16th Ave.

The incident is not being treated as a hate crime.

“Police say at the moment there is no evidence that she was specifically targeted and no derogatory remarks were made by her assailants,” the broadcast station said.

In early June, xenophobic posters expressing anti-Chinese sentiment were posted in the nearby Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights residential neighborhoods.

Anyone with knowledge of the attack is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

Feature Images via New York Police Department (left; screenshot) and ABC 7 (right; screenshot)

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