A woman involved in a brutal attack that led to the death of a well-known cat — and emergency surgery for one of his owners — faces assault charges after she was identified and arrested, the NYPD said.
Evelyn Serrano, 42, was caught on video tackling and beating Chanan Aksornnan, a 34-year-old woman who had been walking her cat, Ponzu, on a lead in Brooklyn’s McCarren park.
Aksornnan suffered minor injuries, her boyfriend suffered a broken nose and had to undergo emergency surgery, and Ponzu lost his life in the chain of events that lead to the beat-down.
Bystanders say the incident began when a 12-year-old boy, who may be related to Serrano, either tripped over or tugged on the lead Aksornnan was using to walk Ponzu. The three-year-old cat was launched in the air and hit the ground hard, losing all his claws. He died of a heart attack shortly after a horrified Aksornnan scooped him up in her arms.
Serrano and her alleged accomplices showed “no remorse,” Aksornnan told Brooklyn news site Greenpointers, and acted as if Aksornnan was being unreasonable by being upset about the cat.
“That’s what you get for walking your —ing cat, b—,” a woman with Serrano said.
When Aksornnan referred to Ponzu as her “child,” the women mocked her, yelling “That’s why you got no kids.”
Video shows Serrano — who at 5’7″ and 200 pounds is considerably larger than Aksornnan — launch herself at the grieving victim and tackle her to the ground.
Two other women with Serrano joined in, kicking and punching the victim while Serrano had her pinned down, video shows.
One of those women, identified as Julie Yvette Rodriguez, mean-mugs a bystander who was recording the incident, yelling “B–, I’ll f– you up” toward the end of the video.
After the incident, Rodriguez allegedly left anti-Asian comments and pictures on Aksornnan’s post about the death of her cat.
“English please ching ching,” she allegedly wrote, according to a screenshot shared on Twitter, before following it up with a meme of a stereotypical Asian man.
The worst take on the incident goes to Jezebel’s Megan Reynolds, who imagined a bizarre economic disparity justification for the attack, noting the “park is full of picnicking gentrifiers.” Serrano and her cohort, Reynolds wrote, were seemingly incensed “about the fact that [Ponzu] was a cat on a leash, walking as if he owned the place.”
“Ponzu was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and something about the temerity of walking an Instagram-influencer cat on a leash was a larger symbol of economic disparity,” Reynolds wrote.
While she does acknowledge that she “can’t imagine a circumstance where I’d be so upset about it that I’d provoke an attack,” she alternately proposes the attack could have been prompted by “collective pandemic fatigue, shared by all of us in different ways, that manifested in violence and ended in tragedy.”
While the incident brought out a lot of ugliness, it also brought at least three communities together to console the victims and seek justice — neighbors and friends of the victim, the Asian-American community in Brooklyn, and local restaurant owners.
Aksornnan, who owns a Brooklyn restaurant called Baoburg and is known locally as Chef Bao Bao, received an outpouring of support from customers, neighbors and fellow restaurant owners. Owners of nearby Chinese and Japanese restaurants lent their support, and donors raised more than $65,000.
The money will be used for “the legal fight that is ahead of us,” according to the GoFundMe, as well as a legislative push for more severe animal abuse laws. In New York, pets are considered property and harming an animal results in — at most — a misdemeanor under the state’s Agriculture and Markets law.
10 thoughts on “Woman Arrested In Connection With Attack That Killed Instragram-Famous Cat”
Well, well, well. Looks like Ms. Serrano and Ms. Rodriguez are in for some strife.
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It looks like the assault charges will be the heart of the case and charges related to Ponzu’s death, if they are ever filed, will be an afterthought. On Reddit and Asian community sites there’s considerable frustration with the police, but I think the anger at the cops is misplaced. They can only enforce the law, not write it. New York, like most states, desperately needs updated animal welfare laws.
Well, the pandemic has done one thing for us – given us an excuse for anything: an anti-Asian hate crime; an anti-cat hate attack (I’ve had to deal with these); or the increasing incivility of American life.
What would we have done without it?
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I found the “economic disparity” argument bizarre. A harness is $10 or less. The “barrier” to walking a cat is training, not money. If someone’s walking a cat, you can bet they love that cat because they invested a lot of time and patience in getting the cat to walk on the harness.
Oh if it hadn’t been this it would of been something else. With a lot of people it doesn’t have to be justified they just do it. The shame of it is that there are a lot of people out there that have children and they shouldn’t, when they teach them total indifference to any life. The 12 year old is probably already ruined..
It is ironic that NY views pets as property, yet is the first state to outlaw declawing. Weird.
Also, it seems they were offended by the cat’s attitude of “owning the place.” Amazing they can read a feline brain. So ignorant.
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You read my mind. I almost mentioned that in the story: We’ve got the first-ever state declawing ban, but the welfare laws are woefully inadequate. NY is in an odd place right now with legislative priorities getting upended by a governor desperate to distract from his own scandals.
That is the whole problem about animals being considered property. That is absurd to say the least. These people including the 12 year old need a wake up call. There is no place in todays world for such selfish indifference to a life no matter if it is a human animal or an animal. I hope before I kick the bucket I will see the courts handing out death sentences for abusers of children and animals. These abusers contribute nothing but pain and suffering to everything around them. There needs to be an end to this type of crime, a permanent end. This world would be so much better off and there would be no more victims by the rabid human animal.
More police agencies are recognizing there is a connection between animal abuse/killing and violence toward humans, so they’re taking these crimes more seriously. However, police are loathe to dedicate significant resources to low-level misdemeanor crimes, so the laws must change for that reason as well.
Yes the law needs to be changed! That is where each and everyone of us can make this happen. Each of us must contact our representatives and demand that the animal laws be up dated in accordance with the crime and what most people want and that is an end o abuse and end of the abuser. United we stand. Folks lets get this done and put an end to these rabid human animals.
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