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Student to return to Taiwan after being bludgeoned with hammer in NYC

Taiwanese woman assaulted by stranger who demanded she take off her mask

Assailant (right) strikes Theresa (center) with a hammer. (New York City Police Department screenshot)

Assailant (right) strikes Theresa (center) with a hammer. (New York City Police Department screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taiwanese woman is planning to return to her home country after she was savagely attacked with a hammer by a stranger while walking in New York City last weekend.

The 31-year-old woman, who identified herself only as Theresa, is a graduate student at Manhattan's Fashion Institute of Technology, where she has been studying since 2019. On Sunday at 8:40 p.m., she and a friend were walking down the sidewalk in the Hell's Kitchen area on West 42nd Street, when an African American woman launched an unprovoked attack.

Theresa told ABC New York that the assailant had appeared to be talking to herself and was possibly intoxicated, prompting her to try to walk around her. However, the suspect spotted Theresa and her companion and allegedly shouted, "Take off your f***ing mask."

Then she struck Theresa in the head with a hammer. "Suddenly, I felt my head get hit by something," said Theresa.

In surveillance camera footage of the incident, the woman can be seen swinging a hammer at Theresa and her friend multiple times. During the struggle, the victims were able to disarm the attacker and flee to a safe distance.

A nearby cafe owner, identified as Steve Olsen, verified the attack to the news station and said that "There was blood all over the place" after the attack. Olsen said some patrons had rushed to Theresa's side and provided aid.

She was then taken to a hospital, where she was listed as being in stable condition. A large gash on the left side of her forehead required seven stitches.

Theresa said that she had spent part of the pandemic with her parents in Taiwan and had returned to New York in April to search for work. Prior to going back to the U.S., her parents expressed concern about the recent surge in anti-Asian violence.

In an interview with NBC New York, Theresa said her mother had encouraged her to carry pepper spray and that she usually does. However, on the day of the incident, she had left it at home.

In the wake of the traumatizing experience, Theresa said that she has contacted her mother and plans to go back to Taiwan "for the time being." She said she would consider moving back to New York if she finds a good job opportunity and "when it's safer."

Police recovered the weapon used in the attack but have yet to locate the suspect. Hate crimes against Asians in the U.S. soared by 164 percent in the country's 16 largest cities in the first quarter of 2021, reported VOA.

New York City, which has the highest number of Asian Americans in the U.S., has reported half of the country's anti-Asian hate crimes in Q1 2021, a 223 percent increase over the same time last year.

The New York City Police Department is offering a reward of up to US$2,500 for any information about the assailant. Anyone wishing to provide information should contact the New York City Police Department by calling 800-577-TIPS or sending a direct message to the NYPD Crime Stoppers Twitter page.

Updated : 2021-05-08 15:21 GMT+08:00