A New York City man is accused of brutally attacking at least seven women who prosecutors say he targeted due to their skin complexion.
According to reports, Khari Covington was arraigned on assault, burglary, and strangulation charges in the 52-count indictment against him on Wednesday. The 29-year-old was initially arrested on January 5 and remains jailed on $150,000 bail.
Covington, who is believed to be homeless and living in a transitional housing center, allegedly targeted “light-skinned women” during a string of attacks that took place between August 2020 to January 4 in the East Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.
The Kings County District Attorney’s Office said more than half of the assaults took place in the Morgan Avenue subway station.
“This defendant’s alleged violent and unprovoked attacks endangered the women he targeted and caused widespread fear in the community,” district attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. “I am committed to prosecuting all hate crimes where victims, including as alleged in this case, are targeted because of their gender, skin color or race.”
“He hit my face, my chest, my shoulder,” Bianca Fortis told NBC New York, noting that Covington “came out of nowhere” when he started punching her.
Elizabeth Wakefield said she was at the Morgan Avenue station in November when the suspect allegedly walked up behind her and attacked her.
“He must have — from the angle and from what I’ve gathered — kicked me in the side of the face and head from behind,” she told the outlet. “My immediate thought after it happened to me was, I really hope this doesn’t happen again to somebody else.”
“I was very scared,” a third woman Tina Francisco, 27, told the New York Post about being attacked at a Brooklyn smoke shop where she worked. “I grabbed a pair of dull scissors. That was the first thing I could find. And I tried to do something with it, but it didn’t really make a big difference. He just wanted to hurt me and feel powerful.”
If convicted, Covington faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
The recent increase in attacks on New York City subways has prompted the New York Police Department to assign extra officers to the transit system.
“We continue our call for an additional 1,000 officers to address this recent uptick in crime and to bring transit policing back to the level it was when the NYPD took over responsibility for keeping riders and transit workers safe,” the Metropolitan Transportation Authority stated. “We also reiterate the urgent need for increased mental health resources in order to get these vulnerable New Yorkers to appropriate services.”