In New York City, a 28-year-old man has been charged with hate crimes in connection with a series of attacks on seven Asian American women.
Steven Zajonc was nabbed outside a midtown Manhattan library on Wednesday evening after two security officers identified him from CCTV recordings.
According to a news statement from the New York Public Library, Roshanta Williams, a guard at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library, observed the suspect on Wednesday morning and recognised him as a frequent visitor in recent months.
Another guard, Lt Elmirel Cephas, told the New York Times that he had seen Zajonc several times at the library in recent months, frequently six to seven days a week. According to Cephas, Zajonc stayed in the library from opening until closing hours and kept to himself, periodically rising to use the restroom and changing into slippers.
“I was very taken aback that it was him,” Cephas stated.
Iris Weinshall, the library’s chief operations officer, commended the guards, stating, “Our guards have an extraordinarily difficult job, made even more difficult by recent events, of keeping our branches secure and friendly to all New Yorkers.”
“They perform admirably on a daily basis, but today went above and beyond to assist the NYPD in keeping our streets safer. We are really pleased of their fast thinking and hard effort,” she said.
Zajonc, a native of Florida, has been charged with seven charges of aggravated assault and attempted assault, as well as seven counts of harassment and aggravated harassment.
Zajonc is presently detained and has declined to give a statement, according to police.
On Sunday evening, the suspect punched, pushed, or elbowed the women repeatedly during a two-hour period. Several ladies suffered face puffiness and lip cuts as a result of the incident. At least one had to be sent to a hospital for treatment.
The attacks come amid an alarming increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders around the city. GuiYing Ma’s family stated earlier this week that she had died after ten weeks in a coma after being struck by a guy with a rock last October in Queens. Ma is the fourth Asian American to die in the city of New York in the last two months as a consequence of violence directed against members of the AAPI community.
According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism’s statistics, anti-AAPI hate crimes increased 339 percent in the United States last year.