Library workers at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library in Midtown helped police nab a man wanted in connection with a string of attacks on Asian women earlier this week.

Steven Zajonc was arrested Wednesday, police said, and is said to have attacked seven women over the span of three hours Sunday night, punching several in the face, shoving one to the ground and elbowing another. Police labeled the attacks as hate crimes.

Soon after police began circulating a photo of Zajonc earlier this week, a security guard at the 40th Street New York Public Library branch recognized the man as a regular patron who came into the library nearly every day, according to the branch’s senior investigator Elmirel Cephas.

“It was a little surprising that it was him,” Cephas said, who added Zajonc often spent a long time in the library’s bathroom and often emerged wearing a pair of slippers, though he’d never caused any trouble at the branch. “He comes in a lot. He’s usually kind of quiet and to himself.”

Lt. Cephas, 53, from Brooklyn, has worked at the Library for 22 years. He's pictured here with NYPL ambassador Angela Yee, who was visiting the renovated Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library earlier this week.

Lt. Cephas, 53, from Brooklyn, has worked at the Library for 22 years. He's pictured here with NYPL ambassador Angela Yee, who was visiting the renovated Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library earlier this week.

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Lt. Cephas, 53, from Brooklyn, has worked at the Library for 22 years. He's pictured here with NYPL ambassador Angela Yee, who was visiting the renovated Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library earlier this week.
Courtesy of the NYPL

Throughout the day Wednesday, Cephas said he was monitoring the library’s cameras waiting for Zajonc, whose last listed address was a Kips Bay homeless shelter, to come in. The man finally arrived around noon, Cephas said. He walked up to the 7th floor and locked himself in the bathroom as he typically did.

Cephas called 911 and officers arrived and arrested Zajonc soon after, police confirmed. The NYPD charged Zajonc with seven counts of assault, attempted assault, aggravated harassment and harassment. He was awaiting arraignment as of Thursday morning.

Hate crimes against Asian New Yorkers quadrupled last year according to NYPD data, and a string of high-profile random attacks on Asian New Yorkers have had many on edge.