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Shocking security footage shows the moment a homeless woman accosted a 16-year-old girl and attempted to strangle her from behind outside a New York City sushi restaurant.
The October 4 incident saw a woman police say is Minerva Martinez, 36, march up behind the girl as she ate outside Watawa Sushi in Astoria, before clamping her arm around the youngster's neck for a few seconds, then releasing it.
Martinez's alleged victim, who hasn't been named, was sitting with her back to the woman when the attack happened, and there's no suggestion it was provoked.
The chilling incident comes amid a recent crime surge in The City That Never Sleeps, as Mayor Bill de Blasio attempts to lure workers and tourists back to the metropolis, despite a spike in crimes and terrifying footage of people being assaulted.
The girl was attacked four days before cancer nurse Maria Ambrocio, 58, from New Jersey was taken off life support on Saturday, the day after she was knocked over by a homeless mugger cops say was fleeing a crime. Her attacker has been named by cops as Jermaine Foster, 26, with foster now charged with murder.
Felony assaults - such as the one Martinez is accused of committing - are up 15.7 per cent over the last 28 days, NYPD data shows, with 1,949 recorded in the 28 days up to October 3, compared to 1,685 committed during the same period in 2020.
The attack last Monday, outside a Watawa Sushi on Ditmars Boulevard in Queens, occurred in broad daylight just after 5 pm
Weekly felony assaults have spiked by 11.9 per cent, with 451 carried out in the seven days up to October 3, compared to 403 for the same period last year.
The annual trend is also making a worrying rise of seven per cent. This year saw 16,899 felony assaults carried out up until October 3, compared to 15,787 for the same period in 2020.
The attack last Monday, outside a Watawa Sushi on Ditmars Boulevard in Queens, occurred in broad daylight just after 5 pm, as passersby walked along the borough's busy thoroughfare oblivious to the danger the teenage girl faced.
Martinez is a homeless woman with a lengthy rap sheet, including six felony arrests.
She was arrested Saturday in connection with the incident and is currently incarcerated and charged with strangulation, an NYPD spokesperson said Sunday in a statement.
Surveillance video released by the NYPD Saturday, hours before Martinez's arrest, shows a seemingly unbalanced person with an unkept mop of gray hair, a white T-shirt, a black jacket and jeans stalking the seated 16-year-old before putting her in a chokehold.
The attacker then releases the girl after a a few seconds but does not leave the scene, standing over and appearing to threaten the girl.
There is no sound in the clip, so it is unclear what, if anything, was said.
Eventually a male passerby intervenes, and the assailant leaves the scene.
The suspect, identified as 36-year-old Minerva Martinez, a homeless woman with a lengthy rap sheet - which includes six felony assaults - was arrested Saturday in connection with the incident and is currently incarcerated and charged with strangulation
Surveillance video released by the NYPD Saturday, hours before Martinez's arrest, shows a seemingly unbalanced person with an unkept mop of gray hair, a white T-shirt, a black jacket and jeans stalking the seated 16-year-old before putting her in the chokehold
The footage shows the female suspect then grabbing the woman from behind, strangling her with both hands
The attacker then releases the girl after a a few seconds but does not leave the scene, standing over and appearing to threaten the girl
Eventually, a male passerby intervenes and stops the attacker, at which point the assailant leaves the scene
Maria Ambrocio, 58, died a day after after being knocked over by a fleeing mugger in Times Square on Friday, with her alleged attacker Jermaine Foster, right, now charged with her murder
The victim 'sustained pain, redness, and swelling, but was not transported to a hospital,' police revealed after the attack.
Following the incident, investigators announced that they were looking for a male suspect, but later backtracked and said Sunday they had arrested Martinez instead.
Martinez, the sole suspect in the frightening altercation, boasts an extensive criminal history, which six felony arrests since 2015, law-enforcement sources say.
There was also a warrant issued in August for her arrest, on a grand-larceny charge, sources add.
What's more, in January 2020, police came across Martinez incoherently talking to herself in the Elmhurst neighborhood of Queens, and she was subsequently carted off to a local hospital, The New York Post reported.
The attack comes as the Big Apple has found itself rocked by a wave of violent crime over the past year, fueling fears it is returning to the dark days of the '70s and '80s when murders were rife and the city earned the unsettling nickname Fear City.
The attack comes as The Big Apple has found itself rocked by a wave of violent crime over the past year, fueling fears it is returning to the dark days of the '70s and '80s when murders were rife and the city earned the unsettling nickname Fear City.
In 2021, nearly every type of violent crime has seen a stark increase in the city of New York
A map showing the New York City boroughs where crime has increased (in red) and decreased (in green) in September 2021 compared to the same month last year
In 2021, nearly every type of violent crime has seen an increase in New York.
Crime in the city has soared over the summer in particular, with felony assaults specifically climbing to unsettling new heights.
According to recent figures from NYPD's CompStats, the department's data gathering unit, felony assaults recorded as of the week ending on October 3, are up by a stark 7 percent, with 16,889 incidents in 2021 compared to 15,787 incidents last year.
And the lingering effects of the pandemic are still snarling The City That Never Sleeps.
With a lack of jobs, poverty rates have drastically increased - and so have the number of homeless.
The Bowery Mission estimates there are 80,000 homeless in the five boroughs - one in every 106 city residents.
Last spring, in a bid to slow the transmission of the virus, the city started housing thousands of homeless people in hotel rooms left empty as tourists fled - but Mayor Bill DeBlasio ended the program in June, thrusting those people back on the city streets, sparking a slew of crime.
Last month, a deaf woman fell onto the subway tracks after she was hit in the head by a homeless man who had been arrested for sucker-punching another victim just four days earlier.
Police later arrested Vladimir Pierre, 41, in connection to the attack.
In August, a similar incident occurred at the Union Square station, where a homeless man was caught striking a victim in the back of the head with a hammer, before leaving him bleeding on the platform after the victim looked at him in the 'wrong way.'
That incident occurred one day after another woman was randomly attacked on a subway platform and beaten with a metal pole by a homeless man while waiting for the G train.
And back in February, a 21-year-old homeless man, Rigoberto Lopez, with four prior arrests and a history of hospitalization for mental illness, was arrested for a string of stabbings that left two dead and two wounded on the city's subway system.
As for the October 4 incident, police say the investigation is currently ongoing.