The widower of the mother who was slain in her New York apartment while he was away has paid her an emotional tribute and urged her badly injured children to come through.
Zhao Zhao, 43, was found dead by police on Wednesday afternoon after she was called to reports of an attack on the Brooklyn home where she lived with her children, ages five and three.
Police have arrested and charged one of Zhao’s lodgers, Liyong Le, 47, who was living in the crowded apartment with his nine-year-old son.
Neighbors said the children’s father worked at an Ohio restaurant, returned home every month and was not home at the time of the attack.
But he paid tribute on social network WeChat as he headed back to visit his children in the hospital.
“My dear wife, I owe you an apology,” he wrote.
“I hope you can bless our child to get through this difficult time.” “My children, Dad just hopes you get through this.”
Le was arrested by police just outside the 52nd Street Brooklyn apartment
Liyong Le, 47, is placed under guard at Maimionides Midwood Community Hospital after police found him covered in blood outside the apartment he shared with victim Zhao Zhao in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn
Police released an image of the bloodied hammer found at the scene
Le was placed under guard at Maimionides Midwood Community Hospital after police found him covered in blood outside the woman’s apartment in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood.
Patrol chief John Chell described the attack as “brutal” and said the children were “fighting for their lives”.
“I think I can speak for all New Yorkers when I can say that our fellowship and prayers are with this family at this time,” he added.
Le lived with his nine-year-old son in a room he sublet from Zhao’s 52nd Street apartment, and neighbors said they heard a series of rowdy arguments in recent weeks.
Restaurant waiter Louis Lin, 33, said he was terrified when police arrived and saw the hallway “covered in blood”.
He said the two children are five-year-old David and three-year-old Yaya, who have many young friends in the building.
They’re “just so adorable,” he told the New York Times.
‘How could that be?’
Zhao’s husband, who worked at a restaurant in Ohio, is believed to be on his way to New York’s Langone Hospital, where his children are in intensive care.
Police said they were called just before 3pm on Wednesday to reports of an attack on the second-floor apartment, which is also sublet to another tenant.
When police arrived, they were filmed by a neighbor who was holding the bodies of the badly injured children.
“I don’t think we should wait,” said one to the other.
‘Go! Go!’ his colleague answered before they both rushed to the stairs with the children.
State Senator Iwen Chu said the victims and suspect were originally from China’s Fujian province and that Le’s young son likely witnessed the attack.
Sen Chu said that after the murder, Le called the third roommate and told him, “Come pick up my son.”
“It’s just sad in every way,” he added.
“My office will remain in close contact with the police and see how we can address the issue to help the victim’s family and the offender’s son.”
Chief Chell said a hammer was recovered at the scene as he condemned a “horrific and senseless act of violence that claimed the life of a married mother of two”.
“I can describe it to you as a small apartment,” he told reporters.
“Three rooms occupied by three different families, if you will, so, you know, tight spaces.
“I don’t know what the argument was about, but we’ll find out.”
Le was covered in blood when police arrested her outside the Brooklyn apartment
He was charged with murder, two counts of attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of weapons and was taken to Brooklyn’s Maimonides Midwood Community Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation
Patrol chief John Chell said the three families shared a “small apartment”.
Police said three different families lived on the second floor of the house where Zhao Zhao was killed
Police cordoned off the apartment block on 52nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn
Police described the attack as “brutal” and said the children were “fighting for their lives.”
Officers found the mother dead and the children seriously injured after being called to the home about a reported assault
Le, who has no criminal record in New York, was charged with murder, two counts of attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of weapons.
“We all need to pray for these little children,” New York State Assemblyman Lester Chang said.
“This type of violence is very rare in our community.”
‘These two little kids are fighting for their lives.’ And I can only imagine what the father must be going through.’