Individual charged with hate crimes for allegedly assaulting Asian man with a hammer

Mar 11, 2022, 7:32 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:18 pm
An Asian man was attacked with a hammer at the 14th Street subway station in New York City. (Gary H...
An Asian man was attacked with a hammer at the 14th Street subway station in New York City. (Gary Hershorn/Getty Images via CNN)
(Gary Hershorn/Getty Images via CNN)

(CNN) — Two hate crime charges have been filed against an individual for allegedly assaulting a 29-year-old Asian man at a subway station in New York City Tuesday, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Christian Jeffers, 48, was charged with attempted assault in the first degree as a hate crime and attempted assault in the second degree as a hate crime, according to the district attorney’s office.

Jeffers is also charged with assault in the second degree, attempted assault in the second degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, aggravated harassment in the second degree, and menacing in the third degree, according to the DA’s office.

CNN reached out to Jeffers’ attorney, Amanda Barfield, for comment.

On March 8, Jeffers possessed multiple weapons, including “a dagger, dangerous knife, dirk, machete, razor, stiletto, imitation pistol, undetectable knife,” according to the complaint. Jeffers allegedly attacked the victim with a hammer in the 14th Street and 7th Avenue 1, 2, 3 station, causing injuries including a laceration to the victim’s head, the complaint outlined. Jeffers also threatened the victim’s wife with the hammer, according to the complaint.

In an unrelated incident, Jeffers also faces two robbery charges and a petit larceny charge after allegedly stealing ice cream from a drugstore and punching a store employee after he was confronted about the theft, according to the complaint.

It’s unclear if Jeffers entered a plea to charges in either of the incidents.

Jeffers’ bail was set at $300,000 on the attempted assault as hate crime complaint and $40,000 on the robbery complaint, according to the DA’s office.

Jeffers is expected back in court on March 15.

Incidents rising in NYC subway system

On Tuesday at approximately 9:05 p.m., the 29-year-old victim was walking at the 14th Street and 7th Avenue 1, 2, 3 subway station when he bumped into Jeffers, according to police. Jeffers then became “irate and aggressive” before hitting the victim in the head with a hammer, the NYPD said.

The spokesperson would not say what kind of dispute it was or what was said.

Following the attack, emergency medical services was called, and the victim was transported to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition, the spokesperson said.

“We are grateful for the outstanding police work by the NYPD who were able to locate and arrest the person who attacked one of our riders within 24 (sic) of the incident,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber on the incident in a statement shared with CNN. “We will always stand up for our customers and their safety, and we expect this perpetrator of a hate crime will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The incident comes amid a spate of recent subway attacks that have pushed city officials to implement new safety measures to combat crime. Mayor Eric Adams, a former transit police officer, and Gov. Kathy Hochul highlighted a joint initiative last month to deploy law enforcement agencies and social services to tackle the issue.

Several of the attacks have targeted Asian Americans, including the death of 40-year-old Michelle Alyssa Go, who was pushed in front of a Times Square subway train in January. The NYPD described her death as a “random” attack, and it was not investigated as an anti-Asian hate crime.

Still, hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased significantly over the past two years due to what experts say is anti-Asian bigotry related to the Covid-19 pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China. In New York, hate crimes involving Asian Americans increased from 28 in 2020 to at least 129 incidents in 2021, said James Essig, NYPD chief of detectives, in a news conference in December.

The subway attacks have been particularly pronounced this year. There have been 54 incidents of crime that occurred within the New York City Transit system so far in 2022, compared to 19 incidents at this point last year, according to NYPD data. This marks a 184.2% increase in crimes committed within the transit system, which include grand larceny, robbery, and felony assault.

Three weeks ago, a 57-year-old scientist with the NYC Department of Health was hit with a hammer several times and robbed at the Queens Plaza subway station. A man was arrested and charged with attempted murder for the incident, police said.

The victim in the attack, Nina Rothschild, is relearning how to walk and climb stairs and is recovering from other injuries, including a broken arm, her brother Gerson Rothschild told CNN.

“She is very cheerful — no change at all in personality or cognitive abilities — and very determined to overcome her problems and I believe she will and will return to work at the Department of Health,” he said.

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Individual charged with hate crimes for allegedly assaulting Asian man with a hammer