A 75-year-old Chinese woman was punched in the face while walking home from the grocery store in Corona on May 26, according to authorities. Her grandson told QNS she is “OK,” but the assault came as a shock and the experience has been “a little surreal” for him and his family.
According to a police report, the 75-year-old woman was walking in the vicinity of 97th Place and 57th Avenue at about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26. Then, suddenly, an unidentified man punched her in the face in an unprovoked attack.
She fell to the ground and suffered a fractured nose and right orbital bone, and was transported to Elmhurst Hospital in stable condition, according to authorities.
In a surveillance video released by police, the unidentified individual was seen walking on foot eastbound on 57th Avenue. He is described as a man in his 20s, last seen wearing a green shirt, blue shorts and red sneakers.
The NYPD is investigating the incident as a hate crime, according to a police spokesperson.
Alex Yem, the woman’s grandson, said they found out about the attack Wednesday after a family member sent his mother a text message telling them that their grandmother was assaulted and was in the hospital.
“From what my mom said when she talked to her, she has a broken nose and a scratch under her eye, but she said there’s actually no pain,” Yem said.
Yem said it’s been hard to get in contact with his grandmother directly, as family members have been calling nonstop.
“She told people to stop calling her ’cause she’s fine,” Yem chuckled. “She’s a tough lady, so I know she probably doesn’t want everyone calling her.”
Yem, 20, said his grandmother has lived in Corona since before he was born — more than 40 years.
Yem currently lives in California with his parents but said most of his family members live in New York and New Jersey, in some of the areas where there has been a rise of anti-Asian attacks and hate crimes since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.
Yem said he’s glad his grandmother isn’t seriously hurt, because he said he knows “there’s much worst things happening,” but worries for her mental health.
“Personally, I know she’s physically fine, I just hope that she can recover,” he said.
Yem, who mainly uses Instagram to share his scenic photos, shared the news on his Instagram story from a post by Asian Feed, a media publication meant to amplify Asian stories. In his Instagram story, he wrote, “at a loss for words. All I can say is that we have the power to change the system and make sure these actions don’t go unpunished.”
He said he’s stayed off of social media for the most part, given all the news of the anti-Asian attacks nationwide. But he felt he needed to say something about this very personal incident.
“Personally, I’ve been OK, kind of just a little in shock,” Yem said. “I think just knowing that she’s actually OK, is just keeping me kind of grounded.”
Yem said he doesn’t want to see this happen to anyone else’s family.
“The problem is not just Asian hate crimes, it’s just hate crimes in general, especially of elderly people,” he said. “I was thinking like, man, if you’re gonna pick a fight with someone, do it with someone your own size, not a lady walking home with groceries. It’s just very sad.”
Yem said he’s encouraged that the man who allegedly assaulted another Asian woman in Flushing several months ago was indicted on a hate crime. But said more should be done to address the root causes of the attacks.
“I don’t think much of the problems can really be fixed in one day. If anything, it’s more of just teaching the younger generation that that type of thing is just not OK,” Yem said. “I honestly don’t think younger kids think like that naturally, it’s more of things they’re taught by other people.”
Yem, who attended St. John’s University for one year as a freshman, said he’s received an outpouring of messages from friends in New York City.
“A good half of the people I met from St. John’s or just from New York, have reached out because I think we all understand that even though this stuff happens in that city, like I’m still honestly going to come back after I graduate. The fact that so many people reached out from New York just tells me that the city is always going to rally together,” Yem said.
Anyone with information in regard to the identity of the suspects is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com, or on Twitter @NYPDTips.