Chinese man's killing reflects'dangerous'neighborhood

Updated: 2014-05-16 08:08

By AMY HE in New York (China Daily USA)

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Chinese man's killing reflects'dangerous'neighborhood
New York City police posted signs on Sixth Street between Avenues C and D in East Village in New York, seeking information about the murder of 68-year-old Wen Hui Ruan. The suspect, Jamie Pugh, was arrested on Tuesday. Amy He / China Daily

Residents of a neighborhood in lower Manhattan, where last week a 68-year-old Chinese man was beaten and died from his injuries, said they have always been concerned about their safety in the area.

"During the day, you're guaranteed to be pretty safe, but once it gets dark, the further east you go, the more dangerous it is," said a security guard who works in a building a few doors down from 745 East 6th Street, in the East Village where Ruan Wenhui was attacked on the evening of May 9.

The area is home to several of the city's housing projects, and the guard, who declined to be named because he's not authorized to speak to the media, said many of the residents in the area are unemployed.

Ruan was attacked on his way home when a man threw him against a wall, beat him repeatedly and then walked away, according to police. The entire incident was caught on a surveillance camera and tape.

"My husband was close by and saw someone lying down on the ground and heard noises, so he thought it was just one of the homeless who was snoring," said a resident who lives across the street from the incident. "But it ended up being that the man was gasping for air."

The woman said that violent crimes don't usually happen on that block, which is located between Avenues C and D in the East Village. "Once you hit [avenue] D, that's where the stuff goes down. But on this street? Nothing happens," said the woman, who, like all people in the area interviewed by a China Daily reporter, declined to be named.

Ruan was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center after the attack and died on May 10 from bleeding of the brain and contusions, police said.

Police put up posters in the area, offering $2,000 for information about the attack. On Tuesday they received a tip that the suspect lived in the neighborhood, the New York Times reported. Later that day, Jamie Pugh, 20, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, robbery and assault.

Pugh, who was arraigned in the Manhattan Criminal Court, has multiple arrests on his record, and did not give a statement to detectives, the Times said.

"The safety in this area is pretty bad," said a Chinese woman who lives in the neighborhood. "People are always doing drugs on the streets. I'm not surprised something like this happened."

"Things started getting really bad in this area sometime last year," said a neighbor who said she and her husband knew Ruan and his family. "Kids around this area are always acting up."

The neighbor's husband said that they had often exercised together.

"We called his wife two days after the incident to see how they were doing. As expected, they were doing terribly because this came out of nowhere," the husband said.

The Ruan family wants Pugh's assault to be treated as a hate crime and wants him to serve a life sentence, according to the New York Daily News.

Pugh's mother said that her son must have been high on the drug ecstasy and that her son "is not like that", she told the New York Post.

"When he goes to jail for this crime," the security guard said to China Daily, "he'll realize the gravity of what it means to take someone's life like that."