By Madina Toure
State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) said the NYPD is following a number of leads in the case of a 16-year-old exchange student from China who was slashed by a mysterious attacker last month on her way to school in Whitestone. The girl said she plans to stay in the United States.
At about 8:15 a.m. Dec. 16, a male approached the girl, identified by Kim as JiaJia Liang, near 147th Street and 13th Avenue and cut her face and neck so severely that she needed more than 200 stitches, according to Kim and the NYPD.
No words were exchanged during the attack and Liang was rushed to the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, the NYPD said.
Police said the investigation remained ongoing.
Kim could not comment on a report in the Daily News that her attacker left a letter on the windshield outside the home of a girl who he said was the intended target rather than the young woman who was slashed, although the lawmaker said it seems to have been a targeted attack.
He said they were initially frustrated at the pace of the investigation, but police has been on top of the leads, noting that Commanding Officer Thomas Conforti of the 109th Precinct and the community were “up in arms about this.”
“The police have a number of solid leads and I’ve interacted with not only the NYPD but the mayor’s office on this and they’re on top of the case and I’m confident that they’re going to pursue those leads,” he said.
Both Liang and her mother were wearing surgical masks at a Jan. 7 news conference in Kim’s office.
The exchange student has been attending the Whitestone Academy for the past three months and is staying with a Chinese-American host family that lives near the school. She is here on a permanent basis on a student visa, with plans to pursue her high school and college education in the United States.
The Whitestone Academy declined to comment.
Speaking through Edward Ip, chief executive officer of Orient Retreat Spa, who translated from her Cantonese, Liang said the incident was tragic but that she appreciates the support.
“The injury, the cuts and wounds are healing and I still want to stay here to pursue my education,” she said.
Her mother said the family has been having a difficult time.
“I want to thank everyone for supporting us, for help at the time that we feel the most hopeless and when we are at this most tragic moment,” the victim’s mother said through a translation by Ip.
Kim and the law firm of Gary Park announced a special fund that will cover various expenses, such as traveling costs and possible surgery to cover her scars. The trust fund has been set up with Chase Bank. Park’s firm will provide pro bono legal services.
“We asked her if she wanted to return back to her country,” Kim said. “She said without hesitation, ‘No, I still want the dream. ‘We have the responsibility to help this young woman.“
He added that the girl “embodies the grit, the determination and resilience that has made the city, state and country great.”
Frank Lu, an immigration lawyer, also said he is working to help her apply for the U visa, a special visa for victims of crimes.
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Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour