Elderly Asian man punched on New York subway in 'racially motivated' attack: 'You motherf**king Asian'
36-year-old Marc Mathieu was arrested and charged with assault over the incident that happened on March 19
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK: A 68-year-old man has reportedly become the latest victim of anti-Asian hate after he was hit in the face by a stranger on a Tribeca subway train. The victim, identified as Narayange Bodhi from Sri Lanka, was left in critical condition after the accused, Marc Mathieu, punched him in the face in the unprovoked attack. George Okrepkie, who witnessed the attack, claimed it was "racially motivated".
The incident reportedly happened on Friday, March 19, when the victim was minding his business riding an uptown No. 1 train to his security job. It was reported that the 36-year-old alleged attacker -- wearing a fedora, black leather jacket, pink hoodie, and an elaborate gold necklace -- boarded the train at about 2:40 in the afternoon and hit the man. “You motherf---ing Asian,” the 6-foot-2 accused reportedly yelled, according to Okrepkie, who also said the unhinged assailant threw what seemed to be a balled-up newspaper before the attack.
“I could not believe that somebody would attack a man of that age. Before I could even look he was standing on top of him,” Okrepkie, a 9/11 survivor who was riding the same train when the incident happened, told NBC New York. The 55-year-old man, who is the CEO of AX Trading, also spoke with New York Daily News and said, “I was in a state of shock. It’s an incredibly disgusting attack on an Asian American. I tried to go after the assailant but he took off. I went back to the elderly gentleman, took off my scarf, and wrapped it around him, waiting for the EMT and NYPD to show up.”
Adding further, Okrepkie stated: “I took photos of the incident to show that crimes keep happening in NYC subways week after week. I just had lunch with a friend of mine, who is Asian American, and it’s brutal to see the rise in crimes against Asian Americans.” After the attack, police said Bodhi was taken to New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan, where his condition was severe but stable.
Meanwhile, Mathieu was captured in surveillance cameras inside the station. His pictures were then shared by investigators, who asked people to help identify him. On Sunday, March 21, police officers arrested him while he was riding a Manhattan-bound Staten Island Ferry. He has been charged with assault. The motive of the attack has not been revealed by the police yet as the investigation is on. Also, it’s not known yet if they believe the incident was racially motivated.
This incident came amid the rise in anti-Asian violence in the US. Recently, a man allegedly gunned down five people at a spa in Woodstock, Cherokee County, Georgia. The alleged shooter, identified as Robert Aaron Long, 21, opened fire at two more spas about an hour later. A total of eight people were the victims of the shootings, six of whom were Asian, which led to Twitter trends like #AsianLivesMatter and #StopAsianHate.
A website launched to educate people about the violence caused to the community stated, “Anti-Asian racism and violent attacks on Asian elderly have only increased in recent months. Since Covid-19 became news in the United States, hate speech and violence against the AAPI community has run rampant. In February 2021, attacks, particularly on elderly Asian Americans, have spiked. Unfortunately, many of these incidents are not being reported and are invisible to major media outlets. We hope to change this by offering the following resources with our community. Please join us in taking action whether it's by educating yourself and others around you or donating to non-profit organizations.”