The NYPD's Hate Crimes unit is searching for a man who struck a woman with an umbrella while shouting xenophobic threats outside a Queens grocery store Wednesday afternoon.
An NYPD spokesperson said that the woman was attacked by a white man in his 60s after leaving the supermarket at Ditmars Boulevard and 31st Street around 1:30 p.m. Police say the man approached her and, without warning, started yelling about her being deported while hitting her with his umbrella.
The woman sustained a laceration to her finger, while the suspect, described as wearing a green jacket and beige pants, remains at large. The NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist the incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
According to the NY Post, the woman, 69, is of Puerto Rican descent—a source tells the tabloid that her assailant screamed, "Get the fuck out of my country! You should be deported! I should shoot you!" before swinging his umbrella at her. Police sources also said the woman defended herself with her own umbrella, and that good Samaritans came to her defense.
"He just came right at my face, he tells me, 'You need to be deported. I'm going to smash your face, I'm going to shoot you,'" the woman told the Daily News, adding that she'd never seen the attacker before in all the 26 years she's lived in Astoria. "I kept telling him, 'No, you leave. I belong here. I'm third-generation.'"
The woman assured the News she felt singled out by the man because she is Latino, and expressed concern that xenophobes across the country feel emboldened by President Trump's anti-immigration rhetoric. "This is going on all over the United States," she told the tabloid. "They figure, as long as you've got a Latino face we're all illegal."
Hate crimes across the five boroughs are up 55% during the first two months of the year compared to the same period in 2016, a police spokesperson confirmed. So far, the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force has investigated 68 bias incidents in 2017, compared to the 44 between January 1st and February 26th 2016.