By Madina Toure
At a news conference Thursday afternoon at the office of state Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), a 16-year-old exchange student from China who was slashed by a mysterious attacker last month on her way to school in Whitestone said she is grateful for the community’s support and plans to stay in the United States.
At about 8:15 a.m. Dec. 16, a male suspect 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 the NYPD.
No words were exchanged during the attack and Liang was taken to the Long Island Jewish Medical Center, the NYPD said.
Kim said the investigation was ongoing so he 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.
Both Liang and her mother were wearing surgical masks at the news conference.
“There is an ongoing investigation and after speaking with the NYPD and the mayor’s office, we need to give them the chance to pursue the leads,” he said.
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.
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. “We’re overwhelmed by the support of the community.”
At the news conference 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.
Kim said he and his wife visited Liang and that she was left with more than 200 stitches across her face.
“We asked her if she wanted to return back to her country,” he said. “She said without hesitation, ‘No, I still want the dream. ‘We have the responsibility to help this young woman.“
He added that she “embodies the grit, the determination and resilience that has made the city, state and country great.“
Park encouraged people to donate money to the trust fund.
“There was a challenge because she was not a U.S. citizen, neither was her single mother, so there were some challenges but we overcame them and we created a trust fund…and we’re ready to accept donations,” Park said.
To donate go to www.GoFun
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour