A Turkish man hoping to begin a new life in America no longer feels safe enough to do so after being brutally stabbed on a Hell’s Kitchen street mere hours after his arrival — as authorities seek a suspect in what appears to be a pattern of targeted hate crimes against Turkish immigrants in Midtown.
Haydan Sonar, 24, and his friend Emirhan Cinar, 20, were standing in front of a bike garage on W44th just west of 9th Avenue when an unidentified man approached them and asked them if they were Turkish.
“We were talking about normal issues in Turkish. We weren’t disturbing anyone,” Cinar told W42ST this afternoon. A man walked up to us and asked, ‘Are you people Turkish?’ We said yes and he said “F*** Turkish people, I hate Turkish people!’”
The man pulled out a knife and lunged at Sonar, stabbing him in the chest before also attempting to stab Cinar, whose layers of clothing prevented him from being wounded. Cinar stayed on the scene to wait for the police and help his friend, as the unknown assailant threatened them before running away towards 10th Avenue.
“He said, ‘Tomorrow, I’m gonna come for you. I’m gonna finish you. I will f*** your wife’,” added Cinar.
Cinar and Sonar were taken to Bellevue Hospital where Sonar was treated overnight and released — Cinar noted that for Sonar, who had just arrived in the US that week and did not yet have health insurance, the ER bill was over $5,000 and he was working out how to apply for and access financial healthcare coverage for his friend.
Cinar, who immigrated to the US late last year, knew Sonar through a mutual friend and volunteered to help welcome him to New York after going through his own immigration process. “He didn’t know anybody in New York except for me,” said Cinar. “He arrived at Queens airport, I sent him my location, we met up to get something to eat. Two hours after getting here, he was stabbed.” Cinar said that Sonar immediately made plans to leave for Canada, declaring “I don’t feel safe in America — I don’t feel safe walking around here.”
Cinar feels equally unsafe, citing the assailant’s threats of a second attack and a disturbing account from another Turkish man who was approached days earlier by the suspect. After initial news reports of the stabbing were released, “we were connected with a pedicab driver who told us: ‘A few days ago this guy stopped me in the Times Square area. He asked me, are you Turkish? I said no because he seemed unsafe. He replied, no, you are Turkish, I’m sure you are Turkish. He put his hand in his pocket, I saw a knife and I ran away’,” said Cinar. The eyewitness feared coming forward and risking his work visa application.
Local authorities were in the process of investigating the hate crime and released the following statement and surveillance video from nearby in hopes of identifying the suspect:
“It was reported to police that on Friday, April 15, 2022, at approximately 0015 hours, in the vicinity of W44th Street and 9th Avenue, a 24-year-old male victim was approached by an unknown individual that made anti-nationality remarks to him. The individual proceeded to display an unknown sharp object and stabbed the victim in the torso. EMS responded and transported the victim to NYC Health and Hospitals/Bellevue in stable condition. The individual fled northbound on 10 Avenue on foot. The investigation remains ongoing by NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force.”
Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at https://crimestoppers.nypdonline.org/ or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls are strictly confidential.