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A Black man accused of attacking women on the subway in New York City was hit with hate crime charges because prosecutors say he specifically targeted “light-skinned women.”

Khari Covington is facing 52 criminal counts for allegedly attacking seven women based on the color of the skin. If convicted, the 29-year-old Brooklyn man could be sentenced to life in prison, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.

“This defendant’s alleged violent and unprovoked attacks endangered the women he targeted and caused widespread fear in the community,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement released Wednesday. “I am committed to prosecuting all hate crimes where victims, including as alleged in this case, are targeted because of their gender, skin color or race.”

Covington told investigators he targeted the women because they are light-skinned, the DA’s office said.

At least five of the attacks happened at the Morgan Avenue L subway station in the East Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn and the other two were nearby. All seven took place between Aug. 5, 2020, and Jan. 4, including two within 24 hours. Covington was arrested on Jan. 5.

Covington’s charges include second-degree burglary as a hate crime, second-degree strangulation as a hate crime, third-degree assault as a hate crime and third-degree menacing as a hate crime. He was being held on $150,000 bail.

A woman who said Covington attacked her described her experience to NBC New York.

“He came out of nowhere, he started punching me,” Bianca Fortis said. “He hit my face, my chest, my shoulder.”

A separate woman who said she was attacked at the Morgan Street subway station described a similar encounter with Covington.

“He was coming down behind me, and he must have — from the angle and from what I’ve gathered — kicked me in the side of the face and head from behind,” Elizabeth Wakefield said. “My immediate thought after it happened to me was, I really hope this doesn’t happen again to somebody else.”


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