Prosecutors say that a 29-year-old Brooklyn man was charged Wednesday with 52 counts in seven separate attacks on “light-skinned” women in East Williamsburg since August of last year.
In addition to other crimes, Khari Covington faces assault, strangulation, and burglary as hate crimes charges. Covington, who lives in a transitional housing center in East Williamsburg, was arrested on January 5th, the day after he allegedly attacked a woman in a smoke shop on Wilson Avenue.
According to prosecutors, five out of the seven women he is accused of attacking were assaulted at Morgan Ave. Train Station. On New Year’s Eve, two of these attacks took place within a 24-hour period. He is also said to have attacked a woman at the same train station three days after Christmas and another on Dec. 11.
Covington is also linked to another attack on Nov. 17 on Morgan Ave. and before that, another attack on Aug 5th in a Morgan Ave. building not far from the train station.
The attacks have all involved women who were hit from behind, punched in the face, and knocked to the ground.
One of the victims, Bianca Fortis, said, “He came out of nowhere, he started punching me. He hit my face, my chest, my shoulder.”
Another victim came out and said that she was attacked back in November at Morgan Ave. Station.
“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,” said another victim, Elizabeth Wakefield. “My immediate thought after it happened to me was, I really hope this doesn’t happen again to somebody else.”
It has yet to be confirmed by police to NBC New York if Wakefield’s attack was connected to the others. She said that after talking to the other victims, “it sounds like similar descriptions of what he looked like, and pretty much the exact same style of attack, and the same exact subway stop.”
After his indictment on Wednesday, Covington’s bail remained at $150,000. Covington, who is considered to be a mandatory violent persistent offender, faces life in prison if convicted.
“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. “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.”