Murder of Christina Yuna Lee Sends Shockwaves Through Chinatown Community

The murder of Chinatown resident Christina Yuna Lee in her apartment at 111 Chrystie St. February 13 has sent shockwaves across the neighborhood and the city. Here’s a summary of the extensive news coverage the story has received in the past week.

Lee, 35, was a creative producer who lived in the walkup apartment for less than a year after moving from New Jersey. Surveillance video obtained by the New York Post showed her being trailed into the building at about 4:30 a.m. Police say the suspect, 25-year-old Assamad Nash, stabbed Lee multiple times. He allegedly tried to flee using a fire escape but was found hiding under a bed. Cops said Nash barricaded himself in the apartment, forcing them to break in.

Nash, who is homeless, has a long record of misdemeanor arrests. As The New York Times and other publications reported, he was taken into custody in September after an incident in the Grand Street subway station in which he punched a man in the face who had swiped his MetroCard for a passenger. He was arrested on other occasions last year and charged with assault, harassment and selling a fare card. Earlier last year, after Nash was arrested for disabling multiple MetroCard machines, he was released and required only to check in three times a month.

As The Times noted, Police released Nash with a desk-appearance ticket in the assault case and on at least one other occasion. When he was arraigned on the assault charge, a judge let him go without bail.

The City looked into why Nash was never compelled to undergo a mental health evaluation. It’s a step that a judge could have ordered at a hearing five weeks before Christina Lee’s murder, but did not. The Legal Aid Society, which has represented Nash, declined to discuss why its lawyers did not request a mental health intervention at the time of his “supervised release.”

There have, of course, been a large number of attacks on Asian Americans during the pandemic. Hate crimes against Asians have shot up 361% in the past year. The Asian American community was already struggling to cope with the murder of Michelle Alyssa Go, who was pushed to her death in the Times Square train station.

Gothamist pointed out the Mayor Adams is facing questions from some in the Asian American community about his responsiveness following the murder. He issued a short written response on Sunday, which State Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou called inadequate. The mayor then put out more extensive remarks: “Christina Yuna Lee’s murder is another example of why we need to work every day to make our city safer… I and New Yorkers across the city mourn her death, but mourning is not enough. We stand with our Asian brothers and sisters against all attacks — motivated by hate or not — and will work every day to ensure this violence does not go unchecked.”

Lee’s family launched a fundraising campaign in her memory. It will benefit organizations that mattered to her. The fund is already up to more than $140,000. The appeal reads, in part, “Christina was full of life. She radiated positivity, joy, and love. She supported her friends in everything that they did. She went above and beyond to make those she loved know she was there for them—never expecting anything in return. Her loss is an unfathomable tragedy that her loved ones and her community will struggle with for years to come.”

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