Bronx, New York – Thomas J. Heard, a man who identifies as a woman, allegedly attacked several strangers in a spree that spanned two days and two boroughs. Law enforcement sources are calling the incidents hate crimes.
The 37-year-old Bronx resident, who has a history of 65 arrests and goes by the name Tasha, is accused of a series of racially motivated acts in which he kicked, pepper sprayed and pulled out a “sharp object” on his victims.
Mr. Heard is accused of pepper-spraying a man at the 125th street subway station on Friday, March 8 at 11:50 AM before preceding to the street, where he allegedly pepper-sprayed five more people.
Later in the day, Mr. Heard allegedly pepper-sprayed a middle-aged man in the face before kicking a woman in the shins as he passed her on the street.
“‘I hate you, you expletive expletive!'” Denise Gannaway, a victim quotes her attacker as yelling to a woman on Saturday by her Bronx apartment building. As Ms. Gannaway ran screaming for her boyfriend Joe Barbuto, the attacker allegedly pursued the couple and pepper-sprayed them in their faces. The victims say he pulled out an unknown weapon from his pocket during the attack.
Mr. Heard pepper-sprayed another woman in the face at the train station at West 96th Street and Broadway.
Police found pepper spray and scissors on Mr. Heard’s person at the time of his arrest at Crotona Avenue and 187th Street.
Mr. Heard has been charged with assault as a hate crime, menacing as a hate crime, harassment as a hate crime and assault with criminal possession of a weapon.
Authorities are investigating whether race may have been a motivating factor in the attacks. All of the victims of the alleged crime spree are white.
Mr. Heard’s neighbors, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that he often talks to himself. Many of the rants he has with himself are race-related. Based on Mr. Heard’s apparently troubled condition, one neighbor speculated that he may have “trauma associated with white people.”
Several of the incidents, which took place in the Bronx and Manhattan, were captured on camera.
Mr. Heard’s extensive criminal record include arrests for prostitution and for assaulting an officer.
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