Brandon Elliot, Charged in NYC Anti-Asian Attack, Was on Parole for Killing His Mother

Brandon Elliot, who killed his mother two decades ago, will face hate-crime charges in the brutal assault on a Filipino woman near Times Square.,


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A homeless man who was out on parole for killing his mother was arrested and charged with a hate crime early Wednesday morning in connection with a violent attack on a Filipino immigrant near Times Square, the police said.

The man, Brandon Elliot, 38, was living at a hotel in Midtown Manhattan that has been serving as a homeless shelter, the police said. He was seen on security footage brutally assaulting Vilma Kari, 65, as she was walking to church on Monday morning.

Mr. Elliot was being charged with two counts of assault as a hate crime and one count of attempted assault as a hate crime, said Manhattan’s district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., at a news conference. If convicted, he will face up to 25 years in prison in addition to other consequences related to his parole.

The video shows the man kicking Ms. Kari in the chest outside a luxury apartment building. After she staggers back and collapses onto the sidewalk, he then kicks her repeatedly in the head. Officials said that Mr. Elliot, who is Black, shouted a number of disparaging remarks at Ms. Kari, at one point telling her “you don’t belong here.”

The horrifying footage spread widely across social media and in news reports, intensifying the outrage and fear caused by an increasing number of reports of anti-Asian hate crimes across the nation in recent weeks.

Mr. Elliot was arrested late Tuesday evening and was expected to be arraigned in Manhattan on Wednesday night, officials said. It was not immediately clear whether a lawyer was representing him. Mr. Vance said that prosecutors would ask for him to be held without bail.

The city’s police commissioner, Dermot F. Shea, said that detectives were also investigating whether Mr. Elliot had been linked to other anti-Asian attacks.

Mr. Elliot pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2002 after fatally stabbing his mother in front of his 5-year-old sister in the Bronx, said Patrice O’Shaughnessy, a spokeswoman for the Bronx district attorney.

According to news reports, Mr. Elliot, who was then 19, stabbed his mother in the chest three times. He was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years to life in prison and was released on lifetime parole in November 2019, after he had served 16 years and had two previous parole applications denied, according to officials and state corrections records.

Mr. Shea suggested that a lack of resources in the city’s shelter system and inadequate social services may have played some role in the attack.

“I don’t understand why we are releasing or pushing people out of prison not to give them second chances, but to put them into homeless facilities or shelters — or in this case a hotel — and expect good outcomes,” he said at a news conference.

The shelter where Mr. Elliot lived, at the Four Points by Sheraton on West 40th Street, was moved from another hotel earlier this year after members of a local community board pushed to have it relocated amid rising complaints of violence and drug use. The operator of the shelter, the Neighborhood Association for Inter-Cultural Affairs, a nonprofit organization, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Louis Montanez, 52, said he lived at the same shelter as Mr. Elliot, whom he saw outside the building from time to time. Some of the other residents would sometimes give Mr. Elliot money to pick up food for them and let him keep the change, he said.

“He would come outside, buy loosies, smoke whatever he was smoking, and that was it,” Mr. Montanez said, adding that Mr. Elliot was someone he consciously avoided because his behavior seemed erratic.

“He’s one of them guys I wouldn’t have associated with,” Mr. Montanez said.

Anti-Asian bias crimes have risen sharply during the pandemic, according to police departments across the country. Many of them have been triggered by people falsely blaming Asian-Americans for spreading the coronavirus.

So far this year, the New York Police Department has investigated 33 anti-Asian attacks as hate crimes, exceeding the 28 it investigated in all of last year. Many of the victims in these cases have been middle-aged men and women who were alone on public transit or, like Ms. Kari, on city streets.

Community advocates also say that anti-Asian attacks have long been underreported, and many reported incidents have not led to arrests or were not charged as hate crimes. The Police Department said last week that any unprovoked attacks on people of Asian descent would be referred for investigation as possible hate crimes.

Given the public nature of these attacks, the actions — or inaction — of bystanders have come under particular scrutiny. In the initial footage released on the attack on Ms. Kari, several workers in the lobby of the luxury building appeared to do nothing to intervene, which heightened anger online.

Extended footage from the building’s surveillance cameras that was obtained by The New York Times on Wednesday told a more complicated story. That clip appeared to show a delivery person who was not associated with the building at 360 West 43rd Street as the sole witness inside the lobby to the attack.

The delivery person then appeared to alert members of the building security team, two of whom moved toward the entrance. One then closed the front door.

A bystander can be seen crossing the street, appearing to confront the perpetrator, with what was at that point a trio of security guards poised inside the lobby, watching what was going on outside and speaking to at least one building resident who left the lobby and hurried past the scene outside.

A minute later, the video shows, the security team walked outside, apparently to render assistance to Ms. Kari. Soon after that, a police vehicle can be seen pulling up as residents, including a child on a scooter, continue to filter in and out of the building.

The Brodsky Organization, the company that owns the building, said Wednesday that it was continuing to investigate the response of its lobby staff, and said that staff members had flagged a police officer down after it occurred.

Detective Michael Rodriguez, who is investigating the attack, said that the police received no 911 calls about the attack but that patrol officers driving by the building encountered the victim.

Kyle Bragg, the president of 32BJ SEIU, the union representing the staff members, issued a statement saying the door staff had immediately called for help, urging the public “to avoid a rush to judgment” until the investigation had concluded.

Ms. Kari and her family could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. She was discharged from N.Y.U. Langone Hospital Tuesday evening, hospital officials said.

Juliana Kim and Sean Piccoli contributed reporting.

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