Days after a new report found that hate crimes against Asian Americans rose by 339% in 2021 compared with 2020, an Asian woman was found fatally stabbed in New York after a man followed her into her apartment. As a result, Asian Americans across the country are now calling for reform and better safety. Not only did surveillance footage catch the entire incident on camera, during which the suspect can be seen following the woman moments before the horrific attack, but the suspect had reportedly escaped from police custody multiple times.
According to the New York Police Department, the victim, identified as 35-year-old Christina Yuna Lee, was found in her bathtub “bleeding from multiple wounds to her body.” A neighbor had called 911 after hearing Lee scream for help. “She was calling for help, screaming for help. I woke up to it. It was awful,” the neighbor told The New York Post. “‘Help me! Call 911’ – that’s exactly what she said over and over and over again.”
Lee was stabbed by a 25-year-old man identified as Assamad Nash. Authorities arrested Nash, who allegedly hid under the bed after failing to flee through the fire escape. It is suspected that the knife he used was from Lee’s own kitchen. Nash, who is reportedly homeless, has at least three active cases in addition to 27 charges from a single arrest last month, ABC News reported.
Trigger warning: The following thread is graphic and may not be suitable for all readers.
According to The New York Times, Lee, a Korean American, graduated from Rutgers University and served as a senior creative producer at digital music platform Splice. She also worked on media campaigns for companies such as Equinox and Marriott International.
“Over the weekend, our beloved Christina Lee was senselessly murdered in her home,” Splice officials said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Our hearts are broken. Always dedicated to making beautiful and inclusive artwork, Christina is irreplaceable. As we start to process this tragedy, we ask that you remember Christina Lee as the magical person she was, always filled with joy. We wish peace upon her family in their grief.”
While the police have not yet declared the incident a hate crime, investigators believe Lee did not know her attacker.
“Whether it was a hate crime or not, the reality is, for Asian Americans, especially Asian American women, our anxiety goes up every time we see an incident like this. Regardless of what the correlation is, we see ourselves every time a story like this comes out,” Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, told BuzzFeed News. Choimorrow added that the stereotype that Asian women are “timid and docile” makes individuals consider them “easy targets” and thus more vulnerable to harassment and attacks.
The incident follows multiple reports of hate crimes targeting Asian Americans across the country. As misconceptions about COVID-19 continue to spread, crimes against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community have drastically increased over the last few years.
“It’s been two long years, and especially with the last couple of months with Omicron we’ve seen yet another spike in anti-Asian hate. Now, maybe this is a hate crime. Maybe this is not a hate crime. But it’s yet another Asian woman. Another Asian American was brutally attacked and killed in her own home. Think about that,” State Sen. John Liu said, according to amNewYork.
“So when the Asian American community is upset, and frustrated and downright angry, you know where it’s coming from. People do not feel safe, and part of this is that government at all levels need to pay more attention.”
Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, who represents the district in which the attack occurred, also commented on the incident, calling the details of the attack a “worst nightmare scenario.”
“She was still screaming and fighting for her life, and they weren’t able to get to her for almost an hour and a half,” Niou said at a press conference on Sunday.
Liu added that change was needed: “Now, maybe this is a hate crime. Maybe this is not a hate crime. But it’s yet another Asian woman … and the city continues to seemingly talk about long-term solutions without providing the relief that the community needs and demands right now.”
Since March 2020, more than 10,000 hate incidents against the AAPI community have been recorded, according to Stop AAPI Hate. The actual number is estimated to be higher due to the number of crimes and incidents that go unreported.
Community members gathered in honor of Lee Monday to speak out against violent crimes impacting Asian Americans in New York. Advocates noted that they “lost count” of how many similar demonstrations have occurred within the last two years.
“The question many were asking today was ‘Who will be next?'” Justine Browning, a 34-year-old PhD student and professor who attended a rally for Lee on Monday, told BuzzFeed News. “You could see local shop workers, parents, grandparents, concerned residents, and activists looking around at one another, questioning who among the community will meet such a grim fate next. There is urgency in this fight.”