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.