A homeless black man on lifetime parole after serving 17 years for killing his own mother has been arrested in the brutal attack Monday on 65-year-old Asian woman named Vilma Kari in midtown Manhattan. Police say Brandon Elliot, 38, was apprehended in the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel which is temporarily serving as a homeless shelter on West 40th Street near the site of the attack. Elliot was released from prison in 2019.
He was charged early Wednesday with two counts of felony assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, assault and attempted assault.
Numerous tips led to Elliot’s capture, police told CBS News, adding that Elliot was released from prison in 2019. Police were offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest. There was no early word on whether the money would be awarded or to whom.
The attack on the woman happened Monday outside an apartment building as she was walking to church just before noon.
Surveillance video showed a man kicking the woman to the ground and stomping on her several times.
Two workers inside the apartment building who appeared to be security guards were seen on the surveillance video witnessing the attack but failing to come to the woman’s aid. Their union said they called for help immediately. The attacker was able to casually walk away while onlookers watched, the video showed.
The management company says two building employees closed the lobby door because the suspect had a knife. In the original surveillance footage, you can see a man confront the attacker but then back off.
As soon as that confrontation ends, the new video does show that the building staff went to immediately help the victim.
However, it also shows during that confrontation that they let a resident exit the building and allowed her to walk towards the altercation.
The management company also says staff flagged down police, but the NYPD has a different version.
“The patrol officers in that part of Manhattan, they came upon the victim after she was assaulted. So no 911 calls,” NYPD Det. Michael Rodriguez said.
The building staff has been suspended pending further investigation, but Police Commissioner Dermot Shea was quick not to blame the building workers, who have come under blistering public scrutiny.
“My focus is on the victim. And my focus is on the individual,” Shea said. “Let’s not lose sight of whose responsible for this and that’s the individual who committed the crime.
The victim was hospitalized with serious injuries, police said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the video of the attack “absolutely disgusting and outrageous” and said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that witnesses did not intervene.
“I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what you do, you’ve got to help your fellow New Yorker,” de Blasio said Tuesday at his daily news briefing.
“If you see someone being attacked, do whatever you can,” he said. “Make noise. Call out what’s happening. Go and try and help. Immediately call for help. Call 911. This is something where we all have to be part of the solution. We can’t just stand back and watch a heinous act happening.”
In a statement on GoFundMe the victim’s daughter, Elizabeth Kari, wrote that while watching the footage ‘”there were many times that I wish someone would have stepped in”. She added that her mother was ‘safe and in good spirits’.
“My mom is humbled by the outpouring of messages and support from not only our friends and family, but from the kind souls all over the world”, she wrote.
“Although the healing process will not be easy, she has always been a resilient role model for me. We are hopeful that in time she will make a full recovery”.
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