A 29-year-old male suspect has been arrested in Honolulu for a recent chemical attack on a 25-year-old Chinese woman.
What happened: Danying Zhang was walking in the Ala Moana area on Tuesday night when Sebastian Mahkwan allegedly splashed an unknown chemical liquid on her at around 9:15 p.m. local time before fleeing the scene on foot. This resulted in Zhang’s skin and clothes being burned. She immediately sought help inside a nearby Planet Fitness gym, where witnesses immediately provided help until paramedics arrived at the scene. Zhang was sent to the hospital in critical condition due to the severity of her burns.
Arrest and charges: The case has been classified as second-degree attempted murder. Mahkwan was arrested on Thursday but has not yet been charged. According to police, charges will be sought with the Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office.
Criminal history: Mahkwan reportedly had prior charges in October for assault and drug possession, and he was out on an $8,000 bail bond when he was apprehended on Thursday. He received several citations related to homelessness during the pandemic, including obstruction of a sidewalk in November 2021. Mahkwan, who appears to have moved to Hawaii from South Dakota, had multiple citations between May 2020 and October 2020 for various violations.
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About Zhang: The recent victim is a Chinese language teacher at the Maryknoll School in Honolulu. She was reportedly identified by the US-China People’s Friendship Association, which sponsors her as part of an exchange program.
Update on the victim: According to the association, Zhang currently remains hospitalized, but reportedly remains optimistic about her recovery. The association noted that the news of the attack has gained attention in China, with efforts ongoing to establish communication with her parents, who are believed to reside in rural China. However, due to their potential status as farmers, internet access may be uncertain. Vernon Ching of the association also mentioned that Zhang is currently unable to speak and is limited in her ability to use a computer.
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“She is all bandaged up to cover her wounds right now. She has tubes in her,” Ching told Hawaii News Now. “She is very upbeat and optimistic. She feels that she is going to get better.”
GoFundMe campaign: The Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help support Zhang’s medical expenses, ongoing treatments and the extensive path to her recovery, including rehabilitation and counseling. The fundraiser has received more than $100,000, as of this writing.
Chinese Consulate’s message: The Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles has dispatched a working group to Honolulu to address the incident. The Consul General in Los Angeles, Guo Shaochun, has raised the issue with Hawaii state officials, demanding a thorough investigation and justice for the victim. Chinese citizens are also reminded by the consulate general to be vigilant and enhance self-protection.
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