An elderly man was left in critical condition over the weekend after a stranger who boarded the same New York City subway car reportedly punched the older man in the head.
Narayange Bodhi, 68, was on his commute on the No. 1 train to work in uptown at around 2:40 p.m. when the incident occurred. Bodhi has since been revealed to be originally from Sri Lanka.
George Okrepkie, a witness to the incident, says the assailant called out “You motherf—ing Asian,” shortly before attacking Bodhi, according to New York Daily News.
Okrepkie, who is a 9/11 survivor, tried to apprehend the suspect before he managed to escape the subway doors at Franklin Street Station. He then tended to Bodhi, using his scarf to stop the bleeding while waiting for the EMT.
Bodhi’s family has reported that he suffers from bruising as well as memory loss of the incident.
Police have released surveillance footage of the man walking through the station and have since arrested Marc Mathieu, 38, from the Bronx.
Thanks to an exhaustive video canvass by @NYPDTransit Detectives, cops recognized this man from his image on a wanted poster. Tonight, he’s in custody & being charged with felony assault in the brutal attack of a 68 y/o man. pic.twitter.com/VdNz9IOAgd
— Commissioner Shea (@NYPDShea) March 22, 2021
Mathieu has been charged with assault, but police are still unclear about his motives. Okrepkie, however, believes the incident was racially motivated.
“I could not believe that somebody would attack a man of that age,” he said to NBC. “Before I could even look he was standing on top of him.”
“I felt safer on 9/11 that I did at that moment,” he added.
The attack follows the surge of anti-Asian incidents that have been reported throughout the country. Over the weekend, thousands gathered in New York City to honor the lives of the eight people, six of whom were Asian women, killed in the tragic shooting in Atlanta.
Feature Image via George Okrepkie