An Asian man spending the day in Central Park with his wife and young son was sucker-punched by a stranger in an unprovoked attack, according to cops and a new report.
The 38-year-old victim and his family were inside the park around 1 p.m. Saturday when the suspect approached them by the Hernshead Rocks on the Upper West Side, according to police and ABC 7.
"You can tell that something just wasn’t right," the victim, who did not want to be identified, told ABC 7. "He was sorta pacing back and forth through this area and he was just kind of muttering to himself…. He started coming closer to my wife and my 5-year-old son, and I could tell he was whispering something into her ear."
The comments were sexual in nature, making his wife uncomfortable, the victim told the station.
The suspect repeatedly tried to close in on the family — and they moved away — but then he cornered them, the victim said.
"Now he’s really in my face and I asked him really politely, ‘Hey let’s practice social distance, you don’t have a mask on, it’s a pretty big park, let’s practice social distance,’" he said. "And then he muttered something to me and said, well, ‘You got a mask. That’s an advantage.’ And then he mentioned ‘You guys always have the advantage.'"
Then the man socked him in the face and took off, cops said.
The victim said his cheek was fractured in two places.
"I was seeing stars for a bit, but my first concern was for my family, I want to make sure they get to safety," the victim told the station. "I thought it was sweat, but at that point there was just blood running down my face, like profusely. And I felt my face temporarily and it just felt like it was completely dislodged."
He went to Mount Sinai Hospital by private means, in stable condition, police said.
The victim said he’s not sure whether he was targeted specifically for his race, amid a wave of anti-Asian violence across the city.
"It’s hard to tell if this was motivated by race," he told the network. "However, we believe that we were targeted, and whether it’s through the fetishes of Asian women in general and sort of the stereotypes they carry, we believe that it’s worth it for us to speak up."
The suspect was still on the loose Friday, cops said. The victim told the station a bystander took his picture and gave it to authorities.
When asked if the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the recent crimes against Asian victims, Shea told CNN Newsroom Friday that he thinks "it’s some of [the] rhetoric and I think it’s mental illness, are clear factors here."
The city’s top cop added: "You really have to drill down on this mental illness."
This story first appeared in the New York Post.