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Queens duo charged with hate crimes for punching, kicking Asian mom and son in their heads

Surveillance images of the attack
via CBS News

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    Two people have been arrested in connection with a suspected anti-Asian attack in Queens, New York.

    The two alleged suspects, Natalie Plaza, 18, and Elijah Fernandez, 21, were arrested on hate crime and assault charges on Monday night, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD).

    On Thursday, Plaza, Fernandez and another male suspect, who is still at large, allegedly yelled anti-Asian slurs at Cecille Lai, a 44-year-old Filipino woman, and Kyle, her 23-year-old son, from a white Acura SUV just after 2:30 p.m. near Junction Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue in Queens.

    According to Lai, she and her son got a lift to the 7 train in Corona. As they exited the vehicle, the driver behind them honked aggressively even though the light was red.

    The female attacker allegedly shouted “ugly Asian” at them and threw water at Lai, to which she responded by throwing her leftover food back at the woman.

    The woman and the two men then got out of their vehicle to punch and kick both victims in their heads.

    “She jumped out of the car and I saw the driver come out of the car,” Lai told ABC 7. “But the last thing I remember is her punching me. After that, I don’t remember.”

    The suspects then fled the scene westbound on Roosevelt Avenue in the white SUV. According to Lai, they also tried to hit her with their car as they were leaving.

    First responders took the victims to hospitals, where they were treated for their head injuries, according to police.

    Lai suffered a concussion, scratches on her eye and bruising on her body, while Kyle suffered a skull fracture. He will reportedly need an MRI to check if there is bleeding in his brain.

    “I can’t even sleep,” Lai said. “When it turns quiet, it’s traumatizing.”

    Lai, who works as a chef, is planning to hold a rally later this week to speak out against hate crimes.

    The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is currently investigating the incident.

    Individuals with any information in relation to this case are urged to contact the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit a tip via the Crime Stoppers website or via DM on Twitter, @NYPDTips.


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