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Chinatown stabbing: Man accused of stalking Asian-American woman to her apartment charged with murder

Christina Yuna Lee was stabbed to death inside her Chinatown apartment in the early hours of Sunday in what police believe to be a random attack

Megan Sheets ,Rachel Sharp
Monday 14 February 2022 21:59 GMT

A vigil is being held in honour of a woman who was followed into her New York City apartment and stabbed to death in one of the latest attacks against people of Asian descent.

Mourners gathered in Manhattan’s Chinatown neighbourhood on Monday morning to pay tribute to Christina Yuna Lee, a 35-year-old Korean-American creative producer.

Lee was killed early Sunday after chilling surveillance video showed a man, identified as 25-year-old Assamad Nash, following her into her building on Chrystie Street.

She was later found dead in her bathtub “bleeding from multiple wounds to the body” after a neighbour heard her screams and called 911.

Police said Mr Nash was discovered hiding under a bed in the apartment and was arrested. He is believed to have targeted Lee, who reportedly hailed from New Jersey, at random.

The NYPD charged Mr Nash with murder and burglary on Monday morning.

Lee’s murder sparked outcry across the city, marking one of the latest attacks against people of Asian descent.


What we know about the stabbing

Christina Yuna Lee was found stabbed to death in her Chinatown apartment before 5am on Sunday after surveillance video showed a man following her into her building.

The suspect, Assamad Nash, was discovered hiding under a bed in the home after he allegedly tried and failed to escape.

The Independent’s Stuti Mishra explains everything we know about the killing so far:

Chilling police video shows Asian woman stabbed to death in NYC

While the police have refrained from calling the incident a hate crime, the tragic murder is one of the latest incidents of attacks against Asians in New York City

Megan Sheets14 February 2022 15:52

Suspect has violent criminal record

Assamad Nash, the man arrested for Lee’s murder, was known to law enforcement well before the killing, police say.

His record includes at least six arrests since May of 2021, including one for allegedly punching a senior citizen during an argument.

Mr Nash’s most recent arrest was on 6 January 2022, when he was accused of damaging 27 MetroCard machines across the city. That case is still pending, according to ABC7.

He is slated to be charged with Lee’s murder on Monday and is currently being held at the NYPD’s  5th precinct.

Megan Sheets14 February 2022 16:10

Local leaders react to stabbing

Several local leaders have spoken out to share their horror at Lee’s murder, which is widely regarded as a hate crime.

Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement: “We stand with our Asian community today.

“While the suspect who committed this heinous act is now in custody, the conditions that created him remain. The mission of this administration is clear: We won’t let this violence go unchecked.”

Governor Kathy Hochul addressed the murder on Twitter, saying she was “mourning this tragic & heartbreaking loss of life”.

We have seen far too many acts of violence against AAPI [Asian American Pacific Islander] New Yorkers in recent months. We must make sure every community is safe in our state,” she wrote.

“I join New Yorkers standing together in support of our AAPI friends & neighbors.”

Leaders of Asian American descent also gathered on Sunday with Manhattan borough president Mark Levine.

“We are demanding action. Our broken mental health system must be fixed. We have to address the real fear in Chinatown and beyond,” Mr Levine tweeted.

State Assemblywoman Yuk-Line Niou called the killing “so gruesome and so horrible and so cruel”.

Megan Sheets14 February 2022 16:30

Who is Christina Yuna Lee?

Lee, 35, has been described as a New Jersey native who worked as a creative director at digital music platform Splice.

The owner of the building where she was killed told the New York Post she moved in less than a year ago and described her as “such a sweet girl”.

Lee’s LinkedIn page showed she graduated from Rutgers University, where she studied art history.

(LinkedIn via CBS2)
Megan Sheets14 February 2022 16:50

‘A wonderful soul’: Landlord pays tribute to victim

The landlord of the victim of Sunday’s brutal attack has paid tribute to her “wonderful soul” as he condemned the way her accused killer “mercilessly stalked” her into her apartment.

Brian Chin, who owns the sixth-floor apartment in Chinatown where Lee was stabbed to death, told NBC New York that the 35-year-old was a “wonderful person”.

“She was a wonderful soul, a wonderful person. She had the entire rest of her life ahead of her,” he said.

Mr Chin described how the suspect followed Lee into the apartment block without her realising.

“She opened the door and he just slipped in right behind her. She never even knew he was there,” he said.

“She walked up six flights of stairs and this man mercilessly stalked her.”

Mr Chin called on New York officials to take action to stop others falling victim to “avoidable” attacks.

“This is about the community and our elected officials need to do something much different because this is all avoidable,” he said.

Rachel Sharp14 February 2022 17:12

Suspect charged with murder of Christina Yuna Lee

Assamad Nash has now been charged with the murder of Lee, more than 24 hours after he was arrested on the scene of the grisly crime.

The 25-year-old, who has been arrested multiple times over the last year, was charged with murder and burglary on Monday morning, according to the New York Post.

He is due to be arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court later on Monday.

The Independent has reached out to the NYPD for further details.

Rachel Sharp14 February 2022 17:45

Asian-American hate crimes tripled in the last year in NYC

While the NYPD is not said to be investigating Lee’s death as a hate crime, her stabbing led to a renewed focus on Asian-American hate crimes in the city.

Members of the Asian community have fallen victim to an increasing number of hate crimes in the last year, with NYPD data revealing that anti-Asian attacks tripled in 2021.

The number of Asian bias hate crimes rose by a staggering 343 percent from 30 in 2020 to 133 in 2021, according to the data.

This marked the biggest leap in hate crimes against a particular group.

Overall, hate crimes almost doubled in New York City in the last year, rising from 275 incidents to 538.

Rachel Sharp14 February 2022 18:05

Asian community condemns attack during vigil

Members of New York City’s Asian community condemned Lee’s killing during a vigil held in Chinatown on Monday morning.

Justin Yu, president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, said that Lee may have been targeted because of her race and said that Asian-Americans are living in fear in the city.

“She has done nothing wrong. Only mistake she made, was to move to New York City… but our city allowed her life to be taken away by violence,” he said, according to CBS2.

“Crime has no consequence in this city.”

He added: “Today, we are mourning, we are crying, we are trembling in fear. We are terrified. Do something New York City!”

The Independent’s Megan Sheets has the full story.

Vigil held for Asian-American woman who was stabbed to death in NYC apartment

Christina Yuna Lee is remembered as ‘such a sweet girl’

Rachel Sharp14 February 2022 19:00

Mourners say they ‘can’t see an end’ to attacks on Asian community

Jacky Wong, a member of Concerned Citizens of East Broadway, spoke at Monday’s vigil, saying that the list of Asian-Americans being attacked is “getting longer and longer”.

“I don’t want to jump to the conclusion that Christina is also a victim of hate crime because it’s still pending, the investigation.

“But this is another Asian American who was brutally attacked and what’s worse is that she was killed in her own apartment. It just shatters our community.

“The list is getting longer and longer. We can’t see an end.”

Rachel Sharp14 February 2022 19:20

Splice pays tribute to ‘irreplaceable’ employee ‘senselessly murdered in her home’

Splice paid tribute to its “irreplaceable” employee who was “senselessly murdered in her home” on Sunday morning.

Lee worked as a creative producer for the music creation platform.

The company released a statement on Twitter along with the caption: “RIP our beautiful friend and colleague Christina Lee.” “Over the weekend, our beloved Christina Lee was senselessly murdered in her home,” the statement read.

“Our hearts are broken. Always dedicated to making beautiful and inclusive artwork, Christina is irreplaceable.

“As we start to process this tragedy, we ask that you remember Christina Lee as the magical person she was, always filled with joy. We wish peace upon her family in their grief.”

Rachel Sharp14 February 2022 19:45

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