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Two suspects arrested on hate crime charges for anti-Asian attack in Corona: NYPD

(Photos: NYPD and Unsplash)

The police have arrested two suspects wanted for an alleged racially motivated attack on a woman and her son in Corona last week (Photos: NYPD and Unsplash)

March 7, 2023 By Michael Dorgan

Police have arrested two suspects wanted for an alleged racially motivated attack on a woman and her son in Corona last week.

The two suspects — Natalie Plaza, 18, and Elijah Fernandez, 21 – were picked up by police on Monday, March 6, on hate crime charges for the alleged beat down of the two victims, who are of Filipino heritage.

Plaza, of 110th Street in Richmond Hill, has been charged with assault in the third degree as a hate crime and assault for the March 2 attack on Elmhurst residents Cecille Lai, 44, and her son Kyle Lai, 24, according to police.

Fernandez, of 107th Avenue in Ozone Park, has been charged with two counts of assault in the third degree as a hate crime and assault. A third suspect in the case is still at large.

Police say that the trio got out of a white Acura SUV near the Junction Boulevard subway station at around 2:30 p.m. before kicking and punching the victims in the head.

During the attack, Plaza also threw water at Cecille Lai and one of the suspects yelled out “ugly Asian,” according to police.

The victims were transported to area hospitals in the immediate aftermath of the incident where they were treated for head injuries, according to the NYPD.

Cecille Lai suffered a concussion, scratches to her eye, and bruising on her body, according to ABC7 News. Her son suffered a skull fracture.

They have both since been released from the hospital, police said.


The alleged assaults drew condemnation from a group of six Queens lawmakers yesterday, March 6.

The legislators — U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, state Senators Michael Gianaris and Jessica Ramos, Assembly members Steven Raga and Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, as well as City Councilman Shekar Krishnan — issued a joint statement denouncing the suspects for their “utterly reprehensible” beat down of the two victims.

“We condemn this heinous act of xenophobia and violence,” the lawmakers said in a statement. “The incident involved the use of explicit anti-Asian slurs and physical violence, which is utterly reprehensible.”

The elected officials said they were deeply saddened and concerned to learn about what happened to the pair, and they vowed to stand up against such hate-filled acts.

The incident is being investigated by the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force.

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