Snejana Farberov, Daily Mail, March 10, 2022
The suspect in New York City’s latest hammer attack that left an Asian man with blood pouring from a wound on his head has a vast criminal history that includes 47 arrests.
Christian Jeffers, 48, who identifies as a woman, was arrested on Wednesday afternoon on charges of assault, aggravated harassment and menacing as hate crimes, and one count of criminal possession of a weapon stemming from a brutal attack on a 29-year-old man that took place at the 14th Street subway station in Manhattan on Tuesday.
Jeffers, wearing a black wig and purple lipstick, was caught on video smashing the stranger in the head with a hammer after the two bumped into each other and then exchanged words.
Police said that Jeffers has a criminal record that stretches back to 2007 and includes charges of prostitution, grand larceny, public lewdness, theft of service and drug possession.
Jeffers was released from prison in last June after serving six years for second-degree robbery.
A week after regaining her freedom, the career criminal was arrested again on a charge of petit larceny, reported the New York Post.
The victim of Tuesday’s brutal hammer attack told NBC New York that he was returning home after having dinner with a friend when he and his companion encountered Jeffers at the subway station at around 9pm.
‘We saw the assailant come out from the turnstile,’ said the victim, who did not wish to be named. ‘As [Jeffers] was coming out he bumped into another individual that was in front of us.’
After having some words with the other passerby, Jeffers allegedly intentionally bumped into the 29-year-old Asian man, even though the victim said he tried to move out of the way to avoid a collision.
Referring to the suspect by a male pronoun, the victim said: ‘He turned around, trying to get in my face, get in my face aggressively.’
In doing so, Jeffers allegedly stepped on the victim’s foot.
Video of the attack shows Jeffers, wearing a wig, a red jacket and blue jeans, yelling at the victim: ‘Why you hit me? Why you f***ing hit me?’
The 48-year-old then pulls a hammer out of her bag and smashes the Asian man in the head.
‘It happened too quick for me to react,’ the victim later recounted. ‘I tried to put my hand up because I was expecting something but I just got hit regardless.’
The victim said he then felt blood dripping down the side of his face. Photo taken at the scene shows the man sitting on the floor and being tended to by paramedics. A small puddle of blood is seen next to him.
The 29-year-old remained conscious and was taken to Bellevue Hospital.
Police initially described Jeffers as male, about 6-foot-2, wearing a wig, purple lipstick, blue jeans, red shoes and a red jacket, and carrying a tote bag.
On Wednesday, Jeffers was spotted by a transit officer shortly after 2 p.m., having jumped the turnstile. Jeffers, wearing the same top and jacket but without the wig, and without the blue jeans and red shoes, was taken into custody. A hammer was found in her bag.
While being led by officer out of a police precinct, Jeffers, wearing the same red jacket she had on during the attack, told reporters that the victim ‘pushed me.’
The victim said he is fed up with rising crime in the Big Apple – and that he wants his hammer-wielding attacker ‘locked up.’
‘I want to get him locked up because he was pretty aggressive,’ the victim, who chose not to be identified, told the New York Post.
‘He was looking for trouble.
‘We’re trying to live our lives as well as we can, you know, and it’s just unfortunate that we have to face all these adversities, along with just all the struggles in life,’ he added.
As of February 27, hate crimes targeting all minorities, not just Asian-Americans, were up more than 142 percent compared with the same period last year.
It is unclear what evidence prompted prosecutors to file hate crime charges against Jeffers.
New York City has seen a huge rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, with police figures showing a 343 percent rise during the Covid pandemic.
This follows a string of horrific incidents in Manhattan, including a homeless man who confessed to fatally shoving an Asian woman in front of subway train at Times Square and a 65-year-old woman who was kicked and stomped on by a man yelling anti-Asian slurs.
Last week, police arrested a suspect who allegedly kicked city health worker Nina Rothschild, 58, down the stairs outside the station in Queens Plaza and repeatedly hit her head with a hammer.
Denise Alston, 57, of Queens, was arrested Friday night after police said she used Rothschild’s credit card a day after the attack.
Also last week, police launched a hunt for a man suspected of going on a two-hour assault spree targeting seven Asian woman.
In February, New York City Mayor Eric Adams ousted Jessica Corey, the head of the NYPD’s hate crimes unit, which has made arrests in fewer than half of all reported incidents.
‘We were too slow in investigating [crimes] as possible hate crimes,’ Adams said Monday as he commented on Corey’s ouster. ‘I wanted a new face there, a new vision.’
There has also been a nearly 60 per cent spike in general crime over last year.
The attack comes almost two weeks after New York City started its new ‘Subway Safety Plan’, a 17-page program to fight the massive spike in transit crime in the still-recovering city.
According to the latest data from the New York City Police Department, since the beginning of the year, there have been 276 instances of crime in the subway system, which represent a 65 percent increase compared to the same period in 2021.
Adams’s plan involves sending more police, mental health clinicians and social service outreach workers into the subways. Levy said Monday that a ‘phased-in’ implementation was beginning.
The plan notes that more than 1,000 homeless people who use the subways for shelter need help, not handcuffs, but says police will have a zero-tolerance policy and will crack down on sleeping, littering, smoking, doing drugs or hanging out in the system.
It calls for clearing all passengers out of trains at the ends of their lines, an approach that has waxed and waned over the years.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which runs the subways, ‘knows that there are people in the subway system who need help and must and will be helped.
‘But they can’t stay in the subway system,’ spokesperson Aaron Donovan said.
Adams did not give any specific details and timelines on his plan’s progress last month, and given the chronic shortage of housing options that are mostly priced at an affordable rate for people who choose to live in the subway, it was unclear where those who found a home underground would go if they are evicted, if won’t be the streets.
Details on the plan’s cost or how it would be paid remain scarce.
Shelly Nortz, a deputy executive director of the nonprofit Coalition for the Homeless, cautioned against ‘criminalizing homelessness and mental illness’ and suggested the city was falling back on policing strategies that had failed in the past.
However, she welcomed arrangements within the plan that call for more psychiatric inpatient beds to be made available, as well as shelters with private rooms and supportive housing, which comes with on-site social services.
In recent years, the city has veered between responding to concerns about crime in the subways and complaints about heavy-handed policing there.
The last mayor, Democrat Bill de Blasio, at times deployed more police into the system. So did Adams, just last month.
The precise number of homeless people living in the subway is unknown, but an annual survey in January 2021 shared an estimated figure at 1,300 — and that was when the subway system would be closed for four hours every night for disinfecting.
The number of homeless people in the system is believed to have increased ever since.
Prior to the pandemic, 1,700 people were living in the subway in January 2020.