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White Plains possible hate crime: Asian American grandmother spit at, punched in nose while on sidewalk


WHITE PLAINS, New York (WABC) — A disturbing trend of violence against Asian Americans continued after a grandmother from Westchester was attacked while walking on a sidewalk Tuesday night.

You might not be able to tell from the fire in her voice, but 83-year-old Nancy Toh came face-to-face with terror this week.

Inside she is shaking, and she has the battle scars to prove it.

In this Eyewitness News exclusive, speaking in Korean, Toh says her assailant came up to her — nose-to-nose, then cocked his head back and spit in her face.

Toh closed her eyes, and that’s when he punched her right in her nose.

She fell to the ground, hit the back of her head and was knocked unconscious.

Eventually a good Samaritan saw her lying there and came to her aid.

When she opened her eyes, she was covered in her own blood and drenched in her pain.

“Bleeding lots from the brain. Looks like pumping out,” Toh said.

New York City has seen a recent spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans, but Toh’s daughter says she didn’t think it was so close to home.

RELATED | Asian American mother says she was spit at while holding baby, called ‘Chinese virus’

“I didn’t think it was so close to home,” Linda Toh said. “And now I’m afraid to go out and my kid is afraid to go out.”

She says her mother waited a day to tell police.

Culturally, Asians are taught to not speak up, keep their heads down and plow forward.

Nancy Toh also didn’t want to go to the hospital because she can’t afford the medical bills.

It happened Tuesday night around 7:30 p.m. outside of Nordstrom at the Westchester Mall in White Plains.

She was out collecting bottles and cans for money.

Just a day after the victim reported the incident to police, detectives on Thursday took into custody 40-year-old Glenmore Nembherd.

He was charged with felony assault for intending to cause injury to a person 65 or older.

The suspect is homeless and has a long violent history.

“An incident like this — we throw all our resources at it,” White Plains Police Department Capt. James Spencer said. “This was a very disturbing and serious incident that occurred in a safe city. And it’s one that we won’t tolerate.”

While there is no evidence at this point the attack was motivated by hate, detectives are vowing to leave no stone unturned.

Still, the assault was unprovoked against an elderly vulnerable Asian American, and it’s part of a larger, disturbing trend nationwide.

RELATED | Former NYPD Chief of Detectives Boyce questions DA after no hate crime charge in Chinatown stabbing

On Thursday night, the president called for unity.

“Viscous hate crimes against Asian Americans who’ve been attacked, harassed, and scapegoated — it’s wrong. It’s un-American and it must stop,” President Joe Biden said.

As for Nancy Toh, she says she has lived through three wars and just wants peace.

“She’s a Christian and I’m a Christian so we want to forgive this man,” Linda Toh said.

But in the meantime, no more walks alone at night.

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