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A New York woman was fatally stabbed inside her apartment over the weekend by a man who allegedly trailed her into her building, police said.
Christina Yuna Lee, a 35-year-old creative producer, was found dead in the bathroom of her Chinatown apartment building early Sunday morning. Assamad Nash, 25, discovered by police at the scene, was jailed on suspicion of murder and burglary in connection to the deadly attack.
On Feb. 13, police officers were dispatched to 111 Chrystie Street in Lower Manhattan after reports of a disturbance. Nash, who had barricaded himself inside Lee’s apartment, unsuccessfully tried to flee police through fire escape via a back room window. He was arrested inside Lee’s residence.
Lee was discovered in the apartment’s bathtub with multiple stab wounds, the New York Times reported, and pronounced dead at the scene.
The building's management said surveillance footage reportedly shows Nash following Lee into the building after she got out of a taxi — and then all the way up the six flights of stairs to her apartment.
"He grabbed the front door just before it closed,” the building's owner told the New York Post after reviewing the security recordings. “He followed her all the way up, hanging back, staying one floor behind her all the way up to the sixth floor. Then, he waited until her door was just about closed and he went in."
The owner, who said Lee had moved into the building months earlier from New Jersey, described her as a “sweet girl.”
Activists and community leaders later flocked to the scene of the murder to pay respects to Lee and condemn a recent string of random attacks against Asian New Yorkers.
“This has happened so many times, and we have attended too many vigils,” Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou wrote on Twitter on Feb. 14.
Police, who indicated Lee’s killing was theft-related, didn’t elaborate on a possible hate crime element in her death.
Still, the incident drew widespread ire from city and state officials who similarly condemned the alarming uptick of violent incidents aimed at Asian Americans.
“I’m mourning this tragic & heartbreaking loss of life,” Governor Kathy Hochul wrote on Twitter. “We have seen far too many acts of violence against AAPI New Yorkers in recent months. We must make sure every community is safe in our state. I join New Yorkers standing together in support of our AAPI friends & neighbors.”
On Sunday, New York’s Mayor Eric Adams also vowed his administration “won’t let this violence go unchecked.”
“I and New Yorkers across the city mourn for the innocent woman murdered in her home last night in Chinatown and stand with our Asian brothers and sisters today,” Adams said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com. “While the suspect who committed this heinous act is now in custody, the conditions that created him remain."
“It is far too often that our community has to contend with yet another senseless tragedy,” Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation told Oxygen.com on Monday.
“We are sad, angry, and fearful with what is happening to our Asian brothers and sisters," Yoo added. "As we understand, there is an ongoing investigation, and we urge our community to remain calm and to reserve judgment until we get all the facts.”
Lee’s killing intersects with a citywide spike in seemingly random hate crime attacks targeting Asian citizens, many of which have been perpetrated by suspects suffering from mental illness. A number of incidents were linked to preconceived biases surrounding misinformation linking China to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021,133 hate crime incidents involving Asian and Pacific Islanders were recorded by the New York City Police Department — a 343 percent increase from the previous year, according to city data obtained by Oxygen.com.
For example, on Feb. 9, a 52-year-old South Korean diplomat suffered a broken nose after being punched in the face during an unprovoked attack in Midtown Manhattan, according to the New York City Police Department. The suspect fled down Fifth Avenue and no arrests have been made. Police didn’t immediately release a motive in the incident.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg also announced last week his office had filed hate crime murder charges against 50-year-old Jarrod Powell, whose accused of beating Chinese immigrant Yao Pan Ma last spring and causing his death.
Bragg’s office is currently prosecuting 33 hate crime cases attacks on Asian-Americans.
Yoo called on city officials to invest $30 million in emergency funding for mental health programs led by communities of color.
“It is too painfully clear that this incident is not an isolated one,” Yoo added. “The status quo in New York City is endangering the lives of Asian Americans every day. After two years of an unprecedented rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, we must see action to keep our community safe and supported through comprehensive services.”
Lee, who graduated from Rutgers University, worked as a creative producer at Splice, an online digital music platform, according to her LinkedIn profile.
“Our beloved Christina Lee was senselessly murdered in her home,” the company said in a statement on Monday. “Always dedicated to making beautiful and inclusive artwork, Christina is irreplaceable. As we start to process this tragedy, we ask you remember Christina Lee as the magical person she was, always filled with joy. We wish peace upon her family in their grief.”
Official charges haven’t yet been filed against Nash, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. No court dates have been set.
Nash has an extensive arrest history and a number of open cases for various petty and drug-related crimes. The 25-year-old was taken into police custody in December after damaging a Metropolitan Transit Authority Metrocard machine at a Herald Square subway station, charging documents show. He was also arrested in September for selling synthetic marijuana at a subway station.
“I love K2,” he reportedly told officers during his September arrest, according to a separate complaint obtained by Oxygen.com. (K2 a kind of synthetic marijuana, made from various plant materials sprayed with a manufactured form version of THC, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.)
Nash was granted a supervised release in that case by Judge Herb Moses following an arraignment on Jan. 7. He’s facing 27 counts of criminal mischief, resisting arrest, escape and attempted escape, according to prosecutors.
Ishan Banerjee, who has previously served as Nash’s attorney, wasn’t immediately available for comment when contacted by Oxygen.com on Monday.
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