NEW YORK (AP) — A fatal hammer attack at a Chinese restaurant in New York City is being investigated as a possible hate crime targeting Asian men, authorities said on Thursday, as the death toll climbed to three and the suspect remained in a psychiatric ward.
Seaport Buffet manager Tsz Mat Pun, 50, died at a hospital more than a week after the dinnertime ambush in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn. Chef Fufai Pun, 34, died in the Jan. 15 attack. Owner Kheong Ng-Thang, 60, died three days later.
“Tragically, earlier today, we did receive notification that this is now a triple homicide, with the third victim passing away,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said. “Our thoughts go out to the family.”
Suspect Arthur Martunovich, who is white and lives a few blocks from the restaurant, is expected to face three counts under the state’s top murder charge, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison if he’s convicted.
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It wasn’t immediately clear if Martunovich, 34, had a lawyer or a relative who could speak on his behalf. No telephone number was listed for his apartment.
According to police, Martunovich walked into Seaport Buffet just after 5 p.m. and began whacking unsuspecting men working there with a hammer before fleeing on foot. A hammer was found at the scene.
Police said Martunovich told officers that he was motivated to commit the attack after watching a movie in which Asian women were treated poorly by Asian men.
Police don’t believe he had a connection to the restaurant.