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Florida man, 28, arrested on suspicion of attacking seven Asian women faced domestic violence claims


A bleach-blond homeless man arrested on suspicion of racist attacks on seven Asian women is an Army vet whose mom has a restraining order against him, and who allegedly hurled n-word slurs at NYPD cops after his apprehension.  

Steven Zajonc, 28, was apprehended on Wednesday, after barricading himself inside a bathroom at the New York Public Libtary and causing a standoff with the police.

DailyMail.com can now reveal that Zajonc, who has ties to both Sarasota in Florida and Staten Island, served in the US Army. Social media posts reveal he was stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas, which is home to the 1st Infantry Decision, in 2015. It is unclear when or why he left the armed forces. DailyMail.com has submitted a request for further information. 

Meanwhile, Zajonc is also believed to have continued his alleged racist behavior after his arrest. Law enforcement sources told DailyMail.com that he screamed the n-word at black NYPD officers after his detention.

Cops say they remain unclear about why Zajonc – whose most recent address was listed as a homeless shelter in Midtown Manhattan – specifically targeted Asian women, beyond the broad suspected racist motive they’ve already shared.  

Zajonc now faces charges of assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and harassment.

He is accused of targeting seven women on February 27 between 6.30pm and 8.30pm, from Madison Avenue and East 30th Street to Broadway and East Eighth Street.

A photo posted in 2015 shows Steven Zajonc, a suspect in a spate of anti-Asian attacks in Manhattan, in his US Army uniform. The 28-year-old is now homeless and faces hate crime charges  

Zajonc is pictured on his Instagram pages, before he bleached his hair

Steven Zajonc

Zajonc is pictured on his Instagram pages, before he bleached his hair 

While Zajonc does not appear to have a criminal history in New York, court records in Florida reveal that in October 2020, his mother, Denise Zajonc, sought an injunction for protection against him, citing domestic violence.

According to the court docket, Zajonc was not served with the injunction. The documents related to this case, which has been dormant since October 2021, are not publicly available online because they have a ‘protected’ status. 

Older photos posted on Zajonc’s Instagram page, and his sister and mother’s Facebook accounts showed the homeless suspect with dark hair. At the time of his arrest on Wednesday, he was seen sporting platinum-blond locks and bleached eyebrows.  

His alleged attacks come after a spate of high-profile attacks on Asian-Americans in recent weeks – two of them deadly. Last week, Asian grandmother GuiYing Ma, 61, died after fighting for three months to recover from brain damage after being smashed in the face with a rock during a New York City street attack. 

Florida man, 28, arrested on suspicion of attacking seven Asian women faced domestic violence claims

Steven Zajonc, 28, was arrested and charged with assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and harassment

Florida man, 28, arrested on suspicion of attacking seven Asian women faced domestic violence claims

He is accused of targeting seven women between 6.30pm and 8.30pm from Madison Avenue and East 30th Street to Broadway and East Eighth Street

Zajonc ignored reporters' questions as he was bundled into a waiting cop car

Zajonc ignored reporters’ questions as he was bundled into a waiting cop car 

Steven Zajonc, 28, was arrested and charged with assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and harassment

Steven Zajonc, 28, was arrested and charged with assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and harassment 

This map shows the times and locations of the attacks, from Midtown Manhattan to Nolita and Greenwich Village, on Sunday

This map shows the times and locations of the attacks, from Midtown Manhattan to Nolita and Greenwich Village, on Sunday 

Ma, who immigrated four years ago from Liaoning, China, was sweeping her front sidewalk on November 26, 2021 in Jackson Heights, Queens when Elisaul Perez, 32, homeless man who was sleeping on the street attacked her, according to her family.  

The first victim of the Sunday attacks, a 57-year-old Asian woman, was hit in the face by a man near Madison Avenue and East 30th Street.  

She went to a nearby hospital to have treatment for a cut on her lip and facial swelling.  

Just 10 minutes later police were called about another attack near Fifth Avenue and East 30th Street where a 25-year-old Asian woman was punched in the face by a man who ran away.  

A $3,500 reward was being offered for information leading to the racist attacker's capture

He was last seen wearing a blue T-shirt and carrying a backpack

A $3,500 reward was being offered for information leading to the racist attacker’s capture

And only five minutes after that police were called again after a man punched a 21-year-old Asian woman in the face near Park Avenue South and East 23rd Street. 

She was rushed to hospital with facial cuts and a swollen mouth.  

Just before 7pm a fourth Asian woman, 25, was punched in the face in Union Square near Irving Place and East 17th Street. She was also left with a cut on her face and swollen lip but didn’t need hospital treatment. 

At 7.15pm a 19-year-old Asian woman was elbowed in the face in the same area by a man who ran off.  

The sixth attack was against a 25-year-old Asian woman who was elbowed in the face near East Houston and Mott Street and just one hour later a 20-year-old Asian woman was shoved to the ground in the same area.  

Florida man, 28, arrested on suspicion of attacking seven Asian women faced domestic violence claims

Asian Americans have experienced a 343 percent increase in hate crimes in 2021 with 133 attacks. Hispanics are also seeing a rise in attacks with eight attacks happening in 2021, compared to one in 2020

Asian Americans have experienced a 343 percent increase in hate crimes in 2021 with 133 attacks. Hispanics are also seeing a rise in attacks with eight attacks happening in 2021, compared to one in 2020

Only 219 people were arrested for hate crimes last year, though there were 524 such complaints. In 2020, there were 265 complaints and 93 arrests

Only 219 people were arrested for hate crimes last year, though there were 524 such complaints. In 2020, there were 265 complaints and 93 arrests

Zajonc is believed to be originally from Florida but currently homeless in New York City.  

One East Side resident told CBS: ‘I try not to let it totally change my life but at the same time I’ve noticed there’s an uptick in that stuff so I’m a little bit more cautious.’ 

The latest spate of attacks adds to the increasing number of assaults Asians Americans have suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The NYPD has created an Asian Hate Crime Task Force in response to the increase in attacks and the department recorded 524 hate crime incidents in the city last year – almost double the amount in 2020 and the highest it’s been in five years.  

Some 131 ‘anti-Asian’ incidents were recorded in 2021 – a 385 per cent increase from the 27 reported in 2020.  

Adams reassigned Inspector Jessica Corey, who led the Hate Crime Task Force, last month. His office has not clarified where she was placed or who would replace her

Adams reassigned Inspector Jessica Corey, who led the Hate Crime Task Force, last month. His office has not clarified where she was placed or who would replace her

Sunday’s crime spree came just two weeks after Christina Yuna Lee, a 35-year-old Korean-American, was followed by a homeless criminal to her apartment on the Lower East Side and stabbed to death in the bathtub.

In January, Michelle Alyssa Go, 40, was shoved to her death in front of a train at the West 42nd Street subway station. 

On Monday, New York City Mayor ousted Jessica Corey, the head of the NYPD’s hate crimes unit, which has made arrests in fewer than half of all reported incidents. 

‘We were too slow in investigating [crimes] as possible hate crimes,’ Adams said Monday as he commented on Corey’s ouster. ‘I wanted a new face there, a new vision.’ 

Lee was reassigned to the firearms and tactics unit, after Adams learned that she had allegedly berated Esther Lee, a hate crime victim, for filming the man who she said spat on her and called her a ‘carrier’ aboard an A train last fall.  

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said that his office ‘tragically’ currently has 33 open hate crime cases involving anti-Asian hate crimes – the most since the establishment of the office’s Hate Crime Unit in 2010.  

In 2021, the Manhattan DA’s Office prosecuted nearly four times more anti-Asian hate crimes than in the previous year.

NYC hit by spate of hate crimes 

Yao Pan Ma, 61, (pictured in April) died on December 31, eight months after he was attacked

Yao Pan Ma, 61, (pictured in April) died on December 31, eight months after he was attacked

Yao Pan Ma, 61

Ma died on December 31, eight months after he was brutally beat by a homeless career criminal in April 2021.

A Chinese immigrant, he was left in critical condition and placed in a medically induced coma after Jarrod Powell, 49, stomped on his head at least six times while Ma was collecting cans to make money for his family.

‘When I saw him in the hospital…his face, I cried. I still cry,’ his wife Baozhen Chen said in April. ‘I hope he wakes up and talks to me and gets better and comes home. It’s really hard to believe.’ 

His death has been ruled a homicide.     

Powell was taken into custody at Ward’s Island men’s homeless shelter just days after the attack in April and was initially charged with second-degree murder and two counts of assault. 

Powell had been arrested 15 times since 1988.

Joseph Borgen

Joseph Borgen was beaten by a group of five men yelling anti-Semitic epithets while on his way to a pro Israel demonstration last Thursday

Borgen's bruised and battered face

Joseph Borgen was beaten by a group of five men yelling anti-Semitic epithets while on his way to a pro Israel demonstration

Borgen, an accountant who lives on the Upper East Side, was wearing a grey kippa and walking toward Times Square around 6.30pm on May 20, 2021 when he alleged that a young man with a black bandana started chasing him.

‘I turned around to try to figure out what was going on and the next thing I knew I was surrounded by a whole crowd of people who proceeded to physically attack me, beat me, kick me, punch me, hit me with crutches, hit me with flag poles,’ he told DailyMail.com.

‘I thought I was going to die. I thought I was really going to die.’

Borgen said there were eight to 10 people taking part in the beatdown and they were shouting anti-Semitic slurs such as: ‘You filthy Jew. We’re going to f*****g kill you. Go back to Israel. Hamas is going to kill you.’

Faisal Elezzi, 25, of Staten Island, was charged with assault as a hate crime, menacing as a hate crime and aggravated harassment as a hate crime 

Waseem Awawdeh, 23, was the first man arrested over the violent assault and was charged with assault as a hate crime, gang assault, menacing, aggravated harassment as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon, police said.

Prosecutors say he told a jailer: ‘If I could do it again, I would do it again. I have no problem doing it again.’

Waseem Awawdah

Waseem Awawdah

Exclusive DailyMail.com photos show Awawdeh wearing a black t-shirt with ‘Palestine’ emblazoned on the front, as he was led out of the 5th Precinct in handcuffs

Vilma Kari 

Vilma Kari's (right) vicious racist attack was caught on camera last year. Her daughter, Elizabeth (left), said a good Samaritan lured her attacker away

Vilma Kari’s (right) vicious racist attack was caught on camera last year. Her daughter, Elizabeth (left), said a good Samaritan lured her attacker away

Vilma Kari was 65 on March 29, 2021, when a man later identified as Brandon Elliot kicked her and stomped on her while yelling anti-Asian slurs outside a building in New York City.

Footage of the horrific attack captured the country’s attention, particularly because it showed doormen in a nearby building seeming to not only ignore the violence but shut Vilma out by closing the door. 

She was hospitalized and treated for serious injuries, requiring a walker to leave later that day. 

Brandon Elliot, then 38, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault as a hate crime and attempted assault as a hate crime. 

He reportedly shouted anti-Asian slurs and told her, ‘You don’t belong here,’ before casually walking away.  

Christina Yuna Lee, 35

Christina Yuna Lee, 35

Christina Yuna Lee, 35

Lee was found dead on February 13 in the blood-soaked bathtub of her Chinatown apartment in New York’s Lower East Side.

The 35-year-old Asian advertising creative was knifed to death by a homeless serial criminal who was free on bail.

Terrifying footage showed Assamad Nash, 25, creep into the building behind Lee after she got out of a cab. 

She entered the building, but didn’t realize that Nash – who did not appear to know his alleged victim – had sneaked in behind her after watching her exit a taxi, and was following her up six flights of stairs to her home.

Her death has not been investigated as a hate crime, but it took place during rising anti-Asian incidents in New York City.

Michelle Alyssa Go, 40

Michelle Go, 40

Michelle Go, 40 

Go, 40, was on the N/Q/R/W platform at West 42nd Street and Broadway at around 9.40am on January 15 when Martial Simon, 61 shoved her from behind with both hands while she looked down at her phone, authorities said.

She was a senior manager of strategy and operations for management and acquisitions at Deloitte Consulting, according to her LinkedIn. 

She graduated from University of California Los Angeles with a bachelor’s in economics and public policy, and got her master’s in business administration from New York University. 

When Simon, who has a lengthy criminal history, was asked by a reporter if he had been the one to push Go, he said: ‘Yes, because I’m God. Yes, I did it. I’m God. I can do it.’ 



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