Sheepshead Bay community members who gathered Friday to honor the lives of three murdered restaurant employees learned that officials are investigating the multiple homicide as a hate crime.
Authorities say Brooklyn resident Arthur Martunovich, 34, attacked Seaport Buffet chef Fufai Pun, 34, and managers Kheon Ng-Thang, 60, and Tsz Mat Pun, 50, with a hammer on Jan. 15. Fufai Pun was killed at the scene while Thang and Tsz Mat Pun later succumbed to their injuries.
Martunovich is facing murder and criminal possession of a weapon charges but Councilman Chaim Deutsch, whose district includes Sheepshead Bay, also expects him to face hate crime charges.
“The perpetrator allegedly expressed vicious anti-Asian sentiments as he committed the attack, leaving very little doubt that his motivations were rooted in faceless hatred,” Deutsch said, adding that hate crimes in New York City saw a 5 percent increase in 2018. “I have been in touch with the district attorney (Eric Gonzalez) since Jan. 15 . . . and he’s asking the grand jury that this should definitely be a hate crime.”
While Alice Cohen did not know any of the victims personally, she attended the rally because she has visited Seafood Buffet countless times and appreciates the employees there.
“I was horrified when I heard the news,” she said. “Why target these particular people? It makes no sense to me at all.”
When Theresa Scavo, chairwoman for Brooklyn Community Board 15, heard about the attack, she wondered, “What kind of sick individual could do such a thing?
“There’s no such thing in this community where we don’t all get along,” she said. “We’re all friends in this community, since I was a child, we were always friends. Southern Brooklyn, this district, we always stand for each other.”
Sam Tsang, vice president of the NYPD’s 61st Precinct Council, attended the unity rally to thank the community for their support on behalf of Fufai Pun’s family. Tsang has lived in southern Brooklyn since he was a child and said he loves his community.
“The community and the world should live in harmony together and not hate,” he said.
A GoFundMe fundraiser was created to help pay for the victims’ funeral expenses.
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office stated that the case currently resides with the grand jury.