Man Identifying as Woman Arrested for Hate Crime Spree in NYC

Man Identifying as Woman Arrested for Hate Crime Spree in NYC

A man identifying as a woman has been arrested for a slew of random ambush attacks involving some form of chemical spray on unwitting passersby walking the New York City streets over the weekend.

Thomas J. Heard, who reportedly goes by “Tasha,” 37, was arrested after allegedly pulling a sharp object on someone in the Bronx. Police also believe, based on CCTV footage, that Heard was responsible for up to nine attacks using a pepper-spray-like substance in the Bronx area, though there may be more victims. Police have confirmed that the incidents are being viewed as hate crimes given that all of the victims were white.

A woman matching Heard’s appearance was then seen physically assaulting a woman, kicking her violently in the leg before spraying the victim and her boyfriend.

“All of the sudden, I hear this woman yell at me from behind, ‘I hate you, you expletive expletive!’” the woman told ABC 7.“I saw her pull something out of her pocket. I didn’t know if it was a gun, I didn’t know if it was a knife – I didn’t know what she had.”

Upon her arrest, police found her in possession of a pepper spray canister and a pair of scissors.

She has reportedly been charged with assault as a hate crime, menacing as a hate crime, harassment as a hate crime, and assault with criminal possession of a weapon. She is due to undergo a medical evaluation following her arraignment early on Monday. She will be held on a $30,000 bond.

“It lights up your whole face on fire,” Joshua Smith, another victim who was attacked on the way home from a doctor’s appointment, told CBS. “Your sinuses, your throat feels like it’s closing up. It’s rough.”

Police say a total of 11 white New Yorkers were attacked over the weekend but they have not definitively linked all of the incidents to Heard at the time of writing. Heard reportedly has up to 65 prior arrests, many for prostitution and assault.

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