"I put my hand on my face and when I saw my hand, it was full of blood," Noel Quintana says

By Wendy Grossman Kantor
February 18, 2021 09:59 AM
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Credit: Courtesy Noel Quintana

Around 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 3, Noel Quintana boarded the L train at Jefferson Station in Brooklyn. The 61-year-old was headed to Harlem, where he works as an administrative assistant at a non-profit that works with mentally challenged people.

As he stood in the crowded car, Quintana silently prayed the rosary.

The man standing next to him then kicked the tote bag Quintana was holding, which held his keys, ID and paperwork.

Quintana moved the tote in front of him so it wouldn't disturb the stranger.

A few minutes later, the man allegedly kicked his bag again.

"I said, 'What's wrong with you?'" Quintana recalls.

Quintana moved to the center of the crowded train car.

"He advanced to me," Quintana says. "I thought he was going to punch me because I got him angry."

Quintana noticed people around him gasping, cringing and covering their faces. He recalls seeing a box cutter in the man's hand.

"I put my hand on my face and when I saw my hand, it was full of blood," Quintana says.

The mask he was wearing was sliced too -- the man allegedly slashed Quintana's face from ear-to-ear.

"I asked for help, but nobody helped," he says. "Nobody moved."

(The rise in violence and discrimination against Asian Americans was featured on last night's episode of PEOPLE (The TV Show!). The segment is below.)

Quintana says no one alerted the train conductor or called 911, so he exited the train and made his way to the station booth and asked for help.

Police officers interviewed him, then an ambulance took him to Bellevue Hospital, where he received about 100 stitches.

He says he has no idea why he was attacked.

The alleged suspect
| Credit: NYPD

"It's probably premeditated because the knife was already there, and he didn't have any effort to get it. He entered strategically, he boarded at one station and got off at the next station," he says. "I don't want to think because I'm Asian. I don't want to think about that. Because it could also happen to anybody, but -- I don't know."

Still, he believes it's possible that he was targeted because he is Asian.

Originally from Manila, Quintana became a U.S. citizen in 2013. The growing violence he's heard on the news against fellow Asian-Americans worries him.

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"It's really sad," he says. "I'm very cautious. I really don't go out."

He doesn't go to Central Park anymore and he avoids shopping, instead opting to go to work and go straight home.

Since the attack, the left side of Quintana's face -- plus his upper lip -- is still numb. It hurts when he bites. But he says he is healing.

"We've been hearing of a lot of violence," he says. "I don't want others to experience what I have experienced."

The NYPD is still looking for the alleged suspect in the case. In a statement to PEOPLE, the NYPD says, "The individual is described as a male, black, 20-30 years old with black hair (afro); he was last seen wearing a black North Face jacket, red hoodie, blue jeans, red bandana, light color sneakers, and a brown Luis Vuitton face mask."

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit tips on the CrimeStoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls are strictly confidential.

To learn more and to report crimes, go to: Asian Americans Advancing Justice (advancingjustice-aajc.org) Stop the AAPI Hate (stopaapihate.org)National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (aapiern.org)Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA (advancingjustice-la.org) and Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (asianpacificpolicyandplanningcouncil.org).

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