A woman who was filmed pepper spraying four Asian women in a racially motivated attack in Manhattan last week has been tracked down and arrested by police, after video of the incident went viral.
The suspect, 47-year-old Madeline Barker, was caught on camera hurling racial insults at the victims, such as’ Go back to where you came from ‘and you don’t belong here,’ during the June 10 altercation.
The incident, which transpired in a public plaza in the Meatpacking District, subsequently sparked a search for the then-unidentified woman – dubbed ‘Karen’ by internet users.
Police now reveal the woman – who wore a bright pink pashmina and Jacqueline Onassis-esque sunglasses during her tirade – is in custody.
Barker, who hails from Florida, now faces hate crime charges for the attack, and was awaiting an appearance Saturday in Manhattan Criminal Court on charges of assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime and harassment as a hate crime.
The incident, which left one victim ‘unable to open her eyes,’ comes amid a rash of anti-Asian violence in City That Never Sleeps.
The suspect, 47-year-old Madeline Barker, was caught on camera hurling racial insults at the victims, such as’ Go back to where you came from ‘and you don’t belong here,’ during the June 10 altercation. The footage subsequently went viral and led to police arresting Barker
Even though the victims attempted to walk away, Barker, who faces hate crime charges, chased and pepper sprayed the victims in the face, the footage shows. One victim said she was’ unable to open [her] eyes’ after the attack
Police had been on the hunt for the suspect, investigating the case as a hate crime after the footage went viral last week
Shocking video recorded by the victims shows the moment the woman, dubbed “Karen” by social media users, starts arguing with the four Queens women, all in their 20s, in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District on Saturday.
The victims, who asked to remain anonymous, told ABC 7 that they were checking out a flower installation when the woman suddenly picked a fight with them, and after accusing them of harassing her, the Karen pepper sprayed the four.
‘It was so painful, one victim said. ‘I couldn’t open my eyes for about 30 minutes.’
A bystander then filmed the victims walking away from the argument, but the Karen continues to yell at them and walks up behind one of the women and blasts her directly in the eyes with the pepper spray before leaving the area.
It’s the latest anti-Asian crime in the New York City, where hate crimes have shot up, those against Asians going up 343 percent last year
Police said the incident was currently under investigation and was being treated as a hate crime.
According to the victims, Barker went on a racist tirade as she pulled out the pepper spray on the Asian women.
‘[She was] saying, like, “Go back to where you came from, you don’t belong here,” ‘one victim recalled to ABC 7.
‘She pointed to an Asian bystander who was a man, we didn’t know who he was, pointed at him and said, “Take your ***** back to your country.”‘
The victims claimed that after the assault, one of them got a message from someone else who allegedly ran into the same women earlier in the day, saying the Karen had pepper sprayed three others, including a 13-year-old girl.
‘Learning that she did this to other people, including a minor, that’s not ok,’ one of the victims said. ‘She needs to be caught.’
Another victim said that despite hearing racist remarks growing up, it was the first time any of them had been physical victims of a hate crime.
Hate crimes have been on the rise in the Big Apple and nationwide, with the NYPD reporting that hate crimes had shot up 96 percent in 2021, with 133 Asian Americans experiencing terrifying and dangerous experiences of discrimination in the city.
Hate crimes are currently up 31.1 percent from the same time last year with one of the latest attacks taking place in April, when a Chinese food delivery worker was gunned down.
Zhiwen Yan, 45, (right) in this undated image on the day of his wedding, was making a delivery on his scooter in the Forest Hills neighborhood Queens at around 9:30 pm on April 30, cops say, when he was fatally shot in the chest
Supporters of Yan, who was allegedly killed by Glenn Hirsch, 51, held a demonstration outside Queens Supreme Court protesting the suspect being released without bail
Steven Zajonc, 28, was arrested and charged with assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and harassment in March
This map shows the times and locations of the attacks Zajonc allegedly perpetrated against seven Asian women on February 27
NYPD’s own figures show how hate crimes rocketed during the pandemic
Zhiwen Yan, 45, was shot and killed in Queens during an argument ‘over duck sauce,’ with police arresting Glenn Hirsch, 51, a man obsessed with the condiment.
Hirsch has pleaded not guilty and is currently being held without bail, much to the outrage of the Asian community as residents protested the decision, slamming the murder of the father-of-three as a hate crime.
In March, police arrested Steven Zajonc, 28, of Florida, who had barricaded himself in the New York Public Library after allegedly assaulting seven Asian women in a two-hour rampage across Manhattan.
At the start of the year, the city was shocked by the murder of Michelle Go, 40, who had been pushed to her death at the subway platform in Times Square.
The rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans has been attributed to the pandemic due to COVID-19’s origins in China, while former President Donald Trump referred to coronavirus as ‘kung flu’ or ‘the China virus.’
The attacks come amid a continued rise in violent crime across the city as felony assaults have shut up by 19.5 percent so far this year when compared with the same period last year, with the NYPD reporting 10,929 cases as of Wednesday.
Overall crime is up almost 40 percent in the Big Apple, with assault up nearly 20 percent
Robberies have seen the most dramatic uptick, with 7,187 cases reported so far this year – 40.3 percent more than the same time last year. Rapes have also shot up by a marked 16.9 percent.
Although murders and the number of shooting victims has seen a down tick of 11.5 and 8.1 percent, respectively, overall crime in the city is up 38.35 percent.
Transit crimes are also up a shocking 53 percent.
Public transportation has become so scary for residents, 85 percent support more transit cops in the stations – which Mayor Eric Adams, 61, promised to address but has not seen through.
In addition, 63 percent support metal detectors in stations, according to the SCRI.