Convicted Felon Charged With Hate Crime, Allegedly Hit Woman 125 Times

A New York state man accused of a violent attack on a 67-year-old Asian woman last week has been arrested and is facing attempted murder and assault charges in a hate crime.

Tammel Esco, 42, was charged Monday after the attack occurred this past Friday evening, according to the Yonkers Police Department. The incident was caught on camera, with the footage showing the unnamed woman getting hit more than 125 times.

The attack is one of many anti-Asian hate crimes reported in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic began two years ago. Data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism shows that anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 339 percent last year, compared with 2020, NBC reported.

After police reviewed security footage, witness statements and other forensic evidence, they said the 67-year-old woman was returning to her home in Yonkers when a man approached her. After he swore at her, she ignored him and tried to open a door into her building's lobby when the man began attacking her, the police release said.

He first punched her from behind, knocking her to the ground. He then punched and stomped on her and also spit on her, police said. As a result, the woman suffered "contusions and lacerations to her head and face," as well as broken bones in the face and bleeding in the brain. Police said she is recovering in a hospital and is listed in "stable condition."

Esco was found outside of the building where the attack occurred and arrested "without incident," the release said.

"This is one of the most appalling attacks I have ever seen; to beat a helpless woman is despicable and targeting her because of her race makes it more so," Yonkers Police Commissioner John Mueller said in the police release. "This defendant must be held to the maximum punishment allowed by law to send a clear message that hateful, violent behavior will not be tolerated in our communities."

Esco was convicted of assault in 2011 and served just under three years in prison, The New York Times reported. He has 14 previous arrests, half of them on felony charges, the report added.

The rise in anti-Asian hate crimes largely stems from the misconception that Asian people are more likely to contract or transmit the coronavirus after terms like "Wuhan virus" and "China virus" became more widespread, according to OCA–Asian Pacific American Advocates.

One of the biggest surges in anti-Asian hate crimes has occurred in New York City, which is just south of Yonkers. The city reported 133 hate crimes in 2021, as compared with only 30 in 2020, according to NBC. On Saturday, Newsweek reported a man went on a racist tirade in a New York City subway station, saying Asians "need to all die."

In May 2021, President Joe Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which is focused on expanding ways to report hate crimes and raise awareness of such crimes during the pandemic.

Esco is being held in jail, with his next court appearance scheduled for March 25, police said.

In the police's news release, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said hate crimes are "beyond intolerable in our city."

"I expect the suspect to be charged to the fullest extent of the law for his heinous actions," he said. "I continue to keep the victim and her family in our thoughts and prayers."

Update 03/15/22, 01:05 p.m. ET: This story was updated to add more information and background.

Man Arrested In Hate Crime
A Yonkers, New York, man was arrested and charged in connection with a recent attack on an Asian woman. Above, a man (not the suspect) in handcuffs. Stock Image/Getty Images

He has 14 previous arrests, with half of them being on felony charges, the report added.

According to OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates, the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes largely stems from the misconception that Asian people are more likely to contract or transmit COVID-19 after the terms "Wuhan virus" and "China virus" became more widespread.

One of the biggest surges in anti-Asian hate crimes occurred in New York City, which is not far from Yonkers. The city reported 133 hate crimes in 2021, as opposed to only 30 in 2020, according to NBC. On Saturday, Newsweek reported a man went on a racist tirade in a New York City subway station, saying Asians "need to all die."

In May 2021, the government passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which is focused on expanding ways to report hate crimes and to raise awareness of hate crimes during the pandemic.

Esco is currently being held in jail, with his next court appearance scheduled for March 25, police said.

In the police's news release, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said hate crimes are "beyond intolerable in our city."