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Top cop Commissioner Shea and DA Vance confirm recent Midtown attack as hate crime

police Commissioner Dermot Shea looks on during the March 31st press briefing.
Photo by Dean Moses

Top police officials and District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. took a victory lap as they officially announced the arrest of Brandon Elliot, the man who allegedly viciously brutalized a 65-year-old Asian woman on Monday.

The video of the offense has gone viral, showcasing an unsuspecting woman simply walking through Hell’s Kitchen while heading to church. The senior was kicked in the stomach and beaten repeatedly in an unprovoked attack by Elliot, who allegedly hollered “You don’t belong here” prior to the assault in front of 360 West 43rd St.. 

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea announced the arrest during a press conference at One Police Plaza on Wednesday afternoon, during which the top cop stated that he and fellow police officials confidently believe the attack to be motivated by a hate crime.

In addition to thanking those involved in the investigation, he also extended his appreciation to the members of the public who reached out to the NYPD through the crime stoppers hotline to help solve this case, along with reporting other hate crimes.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea speaks on the arrest. Photo by Dean Moses

“Let me reiterate: We will never accept or tolerate hate or violence of any kind in our great city. It goes against every fiber of who we are,” Shea said.

Vance continued to emphasize that point, stating that an attack on any New Yorker is an attack on all New Yorkers. He also urged anyone who has been a victim of a hate crime to contact his office for aid immediately. But above all, Vance made a point to counter the hateful words uttered by the attacker before the assault.  

“Let me be clear: this brave woman belongs here. Asian Americans belong here. Attacks against Asian American New Yorkers are attacks against all New Yorkers,” Vance said.

Vance reported that Elliot will be arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on two counts of assault in the second degree as a hate crime and one count of attempted assault as a hate crime in the first degree.  DA Vance predicts that Elliot could face up to 25 years in prison.

“There is no place for these atrocious acts of anti-Asian violence in New York,” Vance said. “To our Asian American community: I want you to know that we are here to help you and to listen to you. We have more than a dozen open cases and ongoing investigations against the AAPI community this year alone.”

District Attorney Vance says he is confident that the crime was racially motivated. Photo by Dean Moses

The correlation between the general public speaking out, reporting crimes, and providing much-needed information to officers is one of the many reasons NYPD officials credit in apprehending the suspect.

NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison underscored that New Yorkers should contact 911 whenever they see a crime, or if they want to remain anonymous, contact their crime stoppers hotline. He advised individuals to not film or approach someone who is committing a crime but to merely take note of their physical description and immediately contact the NYPD.

According to police officials, Elliot has previously served time in state prison for killing his mother 17 years ago and was on parole. They also shared that Elliot lived a few blocks from where the incident occurred, residing in a hotel sheltering homeless individuals. 

On Wednesday morning, Elliot was arrested by police without incident.

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