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Asian man in coma after beating on East Harlem street: I want justice

Yao Pan Ma attack Chines man beaten East Harlem.
Yao Pan Ma attack Chines man beaten East Harlem.
Yao Pan Ma attack: Chines man beaten East Harlem.
Yao Pan Ma attack. Asian man in coma after beating on East Harlem street. Pictured wanted assailant, captured on surveillance video.

Yao Pan Ma attack: Chinese man in coma after beating on East Harlem street while collecting recyclables. Wanted man remains at large in suspected anti Asian hate crime attack. 

A wife of a Chinese immigrant says she no longer feels safe in her own neighborhood after a stranger repeatedly stomped on her husband’s head as he was collecting bottles on an East Harlem street, an attack that has left the man in a coma and fighting for his life. 

‘I feel very unsafe and I am very worried that my husband is not going to make it,’ victim Yao Pan Ma’s wife, Baozhen Chen, told nydailynews. ‘I want the police to capture the person as soon as possible.’

The brazen beating, is the latest of seemingly Anti Asian hate crime which has seen a disconcerting rise in attacks based on race.

Ma, 61, was walking with a shopping cart full of recyclables on Third Ave. near E. 125th St. when an assailant threw him to the ground and stomped on his head at least a half dozen times about 9 p.m. Friday before fleeing, surveillance video shows.

Ma remained in a medically induced coma, and on a ventilator, at Harlem Hospital’s intensive care unit Sunday — and it’s not yet clear if he’ll survive. His face had been badly bruised as well.

‘Why did they do this to my husband?’

‘He is a kind person. He is not the type to cause trouble,’ said Chen, 57, who lives with her husband in NYCHA’s Wagner Houses a few blocks from where he was attacked. ‘I’m really upset.’

Told the woman via the nypost: ‘I was scared. I was crying…I didn’t know what to do. Why? Why did they do this to my husband? Why did this happen? It was sudden. I didn’t expect this.’

Ma lost his job at a Chinatown restaurant last year after the coronavirus pandemic hit New York, and he turned to collecting bottles in September to help make ends meet, said Chen, in Cantonese according to the nydailynews.

‘My husband will call me daily to make sure I know he got home safely. But that night he didn’t call me, so I was worried,’ said Chen, who works as a home health care attendant. ‘I called him and the police picked up … The police told me what happened— my husband was hit and sent to the hospital.’

Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime because the attacker, who has not been caught, zeroed in on Ma before pouncing.

The number of hate crimes against Asian New Yorkers has shot up since the start of the pandemic, police data shows. There were 66 anti-Asian hate crimes in the city this year through April 18, according to the NYPD. As of last week, anti-Asian attacks in the city had increased 450% compared to the same period last year.

The couple moved to the city from China’s Guangdong province in 2019 in search of work and a better life, leaving behind their two adult children who are ‘very concerned about their father’ following the attack, Chen said.

Yao Pan Ma attack Chines man beaten East Harlem.
Asian man in coma after beating on East Harlem street. Pictured Chinese immigrant, Yao Pan Ma.

‘He was just trying to help out the family’

Ma had worked as a dessert chef back home and was quick to find a restaurant job when he arrived in New York. But the pandemic abruptly upended his life as restaurants around the city closed. He was ineligible for federal assistance due to his immigration status, according to his wife.

‘We weren’t qualified for employment reimbursement, so only I’m working during the pandemic,’ said Chen. ‘He was just trying to help out the family. He had no bad intentions. He wouldn’t cause trouble with other people in his neighborhood.’

Chen took some time off work this week to be at her husband’s side in the hospital but said she must return to work to keep paying the couple’s bills.

Ma’s attacker was wearing a black jacket, black pants, white sneakers and a multi-colored baseball cap. No arrests had been made as of Sunday evening, according to the NYPD.

A fundraiser for the beaten man and his family had by Sunday night raised $40,231.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.