Hate Crime Charges For Purse Snatcher Who Targeted Asian Women


Mugshot of Manuel Israel via Brooklyn DA’s Office

A Manhattan man has been indicted for targeting and snatching the purses of Asian women in Bensonhurst and Borough Park, say prosecutors.

Manuel Israel, 20, has been named in a 36-count indictment in which he is charged with second-degree robbery as a hate crime and other charges for allegedly robbing five Chinese women and attempting to rob a sixth woman in separate incidents — allegedly targeting the women because of their race, according to authorities.

“This defendant allegedly targeted Asian women walking alone because he believed he could overpower them. Such cowardly attacks — whether based on a person’s race, gender, sexuality or ethnicity, destroy the fabric of who we are as a community and won’t be tolerated,” said District Attorney Thompson.

In the most recent incident, Israel allegedly approached a 23-year-old woman of Chinese descent who was walking alone from behind on April 6, at approximately 12:20am, in the vicinity of 55th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway, and repeatedly pulled on her purse, causing her to fall to the ground, say prosecutors. He then allegedly stood over her and said, “Give me all of your money.”

A bystander saw Israel with his arm around the victim’s neck in an apparent struggle and called 911. Police immediately responded to the scene and apprehended Israel about 20 minutes later, six blocks from the scene.

Upon further investigation, the defendant was charged with five additional robberies of women of Chinese descent, ages 21 to 43, between March 21 and April 4, all in the vicinity of Fort Hamilton Parkway between 55th and 71st Streets. In each incident, the defendant allegedly approached the victims from behind and pulled on their handbags, causing them to fall to the ground. It is alleged that he then grabbed the victims’ handbags and fled. Three of the victims suffered injuries, including lacerations, bruising and pain.

The investigation revealed that Israel selected women of Chinese descent because he perceived them to be vulnerable to attack, the DA said.

Israel faces up to 25 years in prison for the top count.

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  • Igor

    These attacks were certainly horrible and my heart goes out to these poor souls. However, if one or more of the victims were of a different race, the attack would have been just as horrible. When you try to steal someone’s purse, that someone is usually a women, color, race or ethnicity notwithstanding. By its nature, the crime of purse snatching is a terrorist like action, as it is meant to strike fear in a certain segment of the population. I think that the old expression, “there is safety in numbers,” should hold true in such cases. Women should stick together as a group. After all, an attack against an Asian woman is certainly an attack against a woman!

  • ROSALIE907

    Bastard, hope he gets the max and, if he’s not a U.S. Citizen he should then be deported.

  • Old School Lower East Side

    This guy didn’t even have the decency to rob the rich. Brings to mind that
    wonderful quote by the 19th century industrialist Jay Gould, “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”
    May they throw the book at this scumbag.

  • Jeff

    I vote for death penalty on racial crime!