A man has been charged with murder in connection with a grisly hammer attack that killed a mother and left her two children critically injured in their Brooklyn apartment on Wednesday afternoon.
What happened: Zhao Zhao, 43, was beaten to death with a hammer in a shared apartment on 52nd Street in Sunset Park at around 2 p.m. Her 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter were also attacked and are currently in critical condition at NYU Langone Hospital.
The suspect’s 9-year-old son reportedly witnessed the attack. The bloodied hammer was recovered later.
The suspect: Liyong Ye, 43, a roommate, was arrested while trying to flee the building. Police say the apartment has three bedrooms: the victims occupied one, Ye and his son lived in another, and another unnamed tenant rented the third.
The charges: Ye was charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. He has no previous arrests.
Officials react: Authorities are still determining a motive behind the incident. NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell described it as “a horrific and senseless act of violence.”
State Assembly Member Lester Chang said it was “very rare” for such kind of violence to occur in the tight-knit Chinese community, adding that “something had to trigger” for the suspect to cross “that moral line,” as per ABC7 New York.
State Sen. Iwen Chu said her office will work to support the victim’s family and the suspect’s son. “My office will stay in close contact with police and see how we can address this to help the victim’s family, as well as the son of the perpetrator,” Chu said, according to CBS New York.
What’s next: Ye is being evaluated at Maimonides Medical Center and will soon be transported to Brooklyn Criminal Court for his arraignment. Meanwhile, Zhao’s husband, who works in Ohio, is returning to New York.