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Brooklyn man charged with murder in ‘horrific’ hammer attack on mother, 2 children


New York City Police have charged a Brooklyn man with murder for what they called a “horrific and senseless” attack on a mother and her two children.

Det. Ron Montas, a spokesperson for NYPD, told USA TODAY that police charged Liyong Ye, 47, with murder, criminal possession of a weapon, and two counts of both attempted murder and assault for attacking Zhao Zhao, 43, and her children: a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old girl.

Montas said the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office handled Ye’s arraignment.

The mother died at a New York hospital from her injuries. Montas said the children’s conditions are still listed as critical.

Police believe the attack occurred after Ye and the mother got into a dispute. It is unknown at this time what the dispute was about but NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell said three families, including the suspect and the victims, were living in “tight quarters” in a small apartment.

Tributes poured in as neighbors learned about the case. New York City Councilmember Alexa Aviles of the 38th District wrote on X, the social media platform formally known as Twitter, that the news was tragic and requested people to keep the family in their thoughts.

“I think I can speak for all New Yorkers when I can say our community, our prayers are with this family at this time,” Chell said in a news conference Wednesday.

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Suspect, victims shared an apartment together

Chell said the attack happened around 2 p.m. in the Sunset Park neighborhood. Officers from the 72nd Precinct responded to a 911 call for an assault.

Ye was arrested by officers as he was leaving the building, Chell said. He had blood on his body at the time of the arrest.

Police later located the three victims on the second floor of an apartment and recovered a bloodied hammer as evidence.

The mother and her children were transported in critical condition to Lutheran Hospital in Brooklyn, where the mother later died of her injuries, according to authorities. Chell described the living conditions as a small three-room apartment where Ye lived with his 9-year-old son in one room, the mother of two in another, and an unidentified family in another room.

WABC-TV reported that there had been an ongoing dispute between the families over issues such as rent, noise, use of Wi-Fi, and the shared kitchen. The mother’s husband lived out of state for work but he would visit his family every few weeks, according to CBS New York.

“They are new immigrants coming here with very limited resources and financial pressure,” state Sen. Iwen Chu told the television network. “The father has to work, a thousand miles away, coming home once a month so he can provide the wife and two kids, and in a sharing space. That means they need to share the kitchen, the bathroom. It’s really not an ideal situation.”

Chu called the incident a “limited situation.” She added the families knew each other and that it was not a random attack.

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