Fil-Am journalist disputes police claim, insists he's a hate crime victim

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

March 25, 2014

Brooklyn, N.Y. – In a fundraiser at a Filipino restaurant in Brooklyn, Randy Gener made his first public appearance after his brutal attack in Midtown Manhattan nearly two months ago.

“I’m okay, convalescing, recovering,” Gener said. “It’s been about two weeks almost since getting out of the second hospital.”

The award-winning Filipino-American writer, editor, and artist was found lying on the ground unconscious just a block away from his home. He was left for dead after he was reportedly assaulted by a suspect identified by the police as 24-year-old Leighton Jenning of Queens, N.Y.

Jennings was arrested, arraigned on misdemeanor assault charges and was later released on his own recognizance.

After undergoing a couple of brain surgeries, the scars on Gener’s head are now visible reminders of the severe head trauma he suffered on the reported assault last Jan. 18.

“Broke my head, this thing here flew, my brain [swelled],” Gener said. “They put something back to repair me, sewed me back on, and when I looked at myself in the mirror, I felt like I was a Maori Aborigines who could have starred opposite Mel Gibson or be the daughter or son of Tina Turner in Madmax Beyond Thunderdome because that’s what I felt like. That’s what I look like.”

While investigators have ruled that the alleged attack on Gener is not a hate crime, Gener believes otherwise.

“Why would he do this?” he asked. “I have no idea. I never worked with him, I never appreciated [what] he’s ever written, or whatever he does. It was completely random. I was going home, and next thing you know he attacked me. So hate is the only thing that comes to mind.”

Gener says his insurance does not cover all of his medical expenses.

So far, an online campaign has raised more than $71,500 with a goal of raising $85,000 to pay for the rest of Gener’s medical bills.

Friends and supporters like these Filipino-American chefs continue to raise funds through events like this at the Purple Yam, a Filipino restaurant in Brooklyn.

Purple Yam’s Chef-Owner Romy Dorotan said, “It’s terrible. But I saw him last Sunday. I was so surprised. He looks very good considering the trauma that he got.”

“Thank God Randy is still here,” King Phojanakong, chef-owner of Kuma Inn & Umi Nom said. “I mean, he’s hurt but he’s still alive and we want to celebrate and hopefully raise money with this, help him get better, pay for some of his bills and get him back to recovery.”

Gener is on the road to recovery but with scars and a blurred memory of what happened on the night of his attack, he says he became a different person.

“I think I used to be nicer, and lately I have been less nice and that’s really affected me,” he said. “I used to be really clear and I’ll reflect you and I’ll appreciate you but lately I’ve been finding that whatever it was that I had done seemed to not have mattered.”

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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