FLUSHING, Queens — A man accused of violently shoving a woman to the ground on a Queens street Tuesday has been apprehended, the NYPD said Thursday.
Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison wrote in a tweet that officers took suspect Patrick Mateo into custody after he allegedly “violently shoved” the 52-year-old Asian woman amid a verbal dispute in Flushing.
No charges against had been filed against Mateo as of Thursday morning.
News of the attack went viral across social media Wednesday after actress Olivia Munn tweeted about it, writing that the victim was her friend’s mother.
Munn reacted to the update in a new tweet Thursday morning. “The Asian community felt your outrage and support and YOU GUYS DID THIS!!!,” the actress wrote.
The attack happened at about 1:55 p.m. by a Roosevelt Avenue bakery near Main Street in Flushing, police said.
The woman was waiting in line for the bakery when an unknown man approached her and engaged in a verbal dispute, police said. The man then pushed her to the ground and she hit her head.
An NYPD spokesperson said the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime, and they did not have any information regarding bias or the use of slurs.
However, individuals who said they are the victim’s children posted on social media that the man was yelling racial slurs as he attacked her in the predominantly Asian community.
“Hate crime has no place in our community,” they said in their posts, adding that the woman passed out at the scene and received several stitches on her forehead after spending hours in the hospital.
According to a report by THE CITY republished by PIX11 News, 2020 saw a record number of bias attacks against Asians in the city based on police statistics; they accounted for 10% of all hate crime incidents investigated by the NYPD that year.
NYPD Hate Crime records show 27 incidents involving Asians last year, with the majority of them classified as “Other Corona,” THE CITY report said.
That’s a ninefold increase from 2019, when just three incidents were probed, it said.
Since last March, there have been more than 2,800 anti-Asian incidents in the U.S. as a whole, according to an analysis by a national group tracking anti-Asian hate and discrimination during the pandemic that was obtained by THE CITY.
And that’s likely not all of them; advocates said many anti-Asian hate crimes in New York go unreported.
Since the spike in hate crimes, the NYPD started a new task force focused on crimes against Asian New Yorkers.
“This hit home for me because I have friends, families who are legitimately afraid to go outside because they have fears for their safety,” said NYPD Deputy Inspector Stewart Loo.
But as of early February, the NYPD said no hate crimes against Asian New Yorkers have been reported to police so far in 2021.
Just this week, though, two Asian women were attacked in separate incidents Tuesday inside the subway system.
The City Commission on Human Rights, which investigates bias complaints, took in 205 cases last year involving anti-Asian incidents, a nearly sevenfold rise compared to 2019, THE CITY’s report noted.
To classify an incident as a hate crime, police must show it was motivated due to the identity of the victim, often by citing words used by suspects in conjunction with violence, the report added.
President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order condemning racism, xenophobia and intolerance against the Asian and Pacific Island community.
And it comes at the right time: a recent study done by an Asian youth campaign showed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, one in four Asian Americans have personally experienced hate nationwide.
PIX11’s Lauren Cook, Kristine Garcia, Nicole Johnson and Craig Treadway contributed, along with reporting from THE CITY.