March 8, 2023, By Bill Parry
An Ozone Park man and a woman from Richmond Hill were officially charged on Tuesday, March 7, for their roles in an alleged anti-Asian attack in Corona last week, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Elijah Fernandez, 21, of 107th Avenue, and Natalie Plaza, 18, of 110th Street, were arraigned before Queens Criminal Court Judge Jessica Earle-Gargan on a criminal complaint charging both with assault in the third degree as a hate crime and aggravated harassment in the second degree for their alleged involvement in a hate-motivated assault on a mother and son from Elmhurst and a man who attempted to stop the attack.
Fernandez was additionally charged on a five-count complaint with assault in the third degree as a hate crime, menacing in the second degree as a hate crime, assault in the third degree, aggravated harassment in the second degree, and harassment in the second degree in connection with the incident.
According to the charges, at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 2, the 44-year-old woman and her 24-year-old son were on Junction Boulevard near Roosevelt Avenue in Corona when a white Acura SUV drove by with defendant Plaza in the front passenger seat. Plaza yelled “Ugly Asian!” and threw water from the car window onto the woman.
The SUV pulled over and Plaza got out, approached the mother, and pulled her to the ground. Plaza then punched and kicked her multiple times in the face and upper body, according to the charges.
A 44-year-old male bystander approached to help the victim, at which time Fernandez and another man, who has yet to be arrested, got out of the SUV and rushed toward the good Samaritan. As the good Samaritan attempted to pull Plaza away from the prone mother, Fernandez, and his male associate punched him in the face, according to charges. The woman’s 24-year-old son approached to help his mother and was also punched in the face by Fernandez. The three assailants then got back into the SUV, with Fernandez behind the wheel. Before leaving the scene, the SUV swerved and came within inches of striking the mother.
The woman and her son were taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center where they were treated for their injuries and released.
Police from the 115th Precinct in Jackson Heights arrested Fernandez and Plaza on Monday, March 6.
“In the most diverse county in the country, perhaps the most diverse place in the world, there is zero tolerance for hate,” Katz said. “We will not allow our values to be threatened with violence.”
Judge Earle-Gargan ordered Fernandez and Plaza to return to court on March 10. If convicted, they face up to four years in prison.