Hate crime charges for Flushing man who targeted & beat Chinese women

A Flushing man is behind bars on high bail for allegedly assaulting and robbing two Chinese women in Flushing that were motivated by hate, according to prosecutors.

Key S. Lee, 34, of Hawthorne Avenue was arrested soon after he mugged a woman on Wednesday as she walked toward the apartment building where she lives. Authorities said Lee punched the woman several times, then took off with her handbag, which contained credit cards, identification and $2,000 in cash.

Reportedly, Lee targeted the victim after she cut him off in traffic while driving home. Police said he followed her by car and later on foot before attacking her.

Following his arrest, Lee was linked to a second attack on Jan. 27, in which he allegedly rushed a woman who was shoveling out her car after last month’s blizzard. When the woman opened the back door of the car, authorities said, Lee allegedly pushed her into the back seat, punched her in the face, grabbed her purse and fled. This incident, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, was caught on tape.

In statements made to the 109th Precinct, Lee allegedly admitted that he attacked the women in part because they were of Chinese origin.

“The defendant, who is Korean, is accused of acting on his hatred for Chinese people. He allegedly sought out these two women because of their race,” Brown said in a statement Thursday. “This kind of bigotry and racism is not acceptable in a civilized society. The defendant now faces serious jail time.”

Lee was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Thursday on two complaints charging him with second-degree robbery as a hate crime; third-degree assault as a hate crime; unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime; and criminal possession of stolen property. Queens Supreme Court Judge Peter Vallone ordered Lee held on $1 million combined bail and to return to court on Feb. 25.

Lee faces up to 50 years behind bars if convicted of the charges, Brown said.