Police are looking for two suspects who allegedly assaulted a transgender woman on a subway platform in Harlem on Friday night. [Update Below]
26-year-old Serena Daniari was attacked while waiting on the southbound C train platform at West 155th Street around 9 p.m. Investigators say a man and woman approached her, made "anti-sexual orientation statements," then spit on and slapped the Daniari in the face. One of the suspects allegedly swatted the victim's phone out of her hand as well. The two assailants then fled the station on foot, according to police.
Daniari, a journalist, posted a distraught video on Twitter after the incident in which she said, "I just wish people would leave me alone...I don’t do anything. I just want to be left alone.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement that the Hate Crime Task Force is investigating "this loathsome, transphobic attack. If you have ANY information please contact them IMMEDIATELY. Serena, on behalf of your city I’m so sorry this happened. Transgender and non-binary New Yorkers deserve to travel in their city without fear." In response, Daniari tweeted, "Thank you [Mayor de Blasio] so much for your support and for your dedication to the trans community. The trans community is under attack and we need protection, now more than ever."
Governor Andrew Cuomo echoed de Blasio, saying in a statement: “I’m sickened by the incident Friday in which a transgender woman in Harlem was assaulted by two individuals who struck her while hurling transphobic slurs. No one should ever have to live in fear simply for being who they are. New Yorkers embrace diversity and our differences because that’s what makes us unique and that’s what makes us great.”
Daniari also released a statement thanking people for their help and asking for privacy while the NYPD investigates:
The NYPD says both suspects, a man and a woman, are in their 20s. The man was last seen wearing a yellow jacket and a black skull cap. The woman was last seen wearing a black jacket and eyeglasses.
Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website, or contacting them on Twitter.
[Update 3 p.m.] Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison confirmed on Twitter that one of the suspects had been arrested today. The NY Post and Daily News are both reporting that the suspect is 26-year-old Pablo Valle, who has "27 prior arrests, including busts for drugs, assault, grand larceny and robbery." They added that the female accomplice was still being sought.
An NYPD spokesperson could not confirm the identity of the person arrested.