Brooklyn man in 'racist' hammer attack that killed Malaysian restaurateur is 'crazy', says mom

Arthur Martunovich was arrested shortly after the brutal assault by New York police about two blocks away from the scene of gore.
Arthur Martunovich was arrested shortly after the brutal assault by New York police about two blocks away from the scene of gore.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ARTHUR MARTUNOVICH

It is 5.10pm Tuesday (Jan 15) and the Seaport Buffet restaurant in Brooklyn is packed with diners when Arthur Martunovich storms in with a hammer in hand and bashes the restaurant owner, a Malaysian Chinese, on the head.

Fearing they are next, horrified patrons and restaurant employees try to escape, but the 34-year-old construction foreman had only one target in mind: Chinese men.

Next Martunovich barges into the kitchen and clubs restaurant manager Tsz Mat Pun, 50, and chef Fufai Pun, 34, before dropping his weapon and dashing out into the street.

The attack, labelled racist by some media, left the restaurant manager in critical condition and the chef dead.

Mr Ng Tan Kheong, the 60-year-old owner of the restaurant at Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, died last Friday (Jan 18) after being declared brain dead as a result of the assault.

Martunovich was arrested shortly after the brutal assault by New York police about two blocks away from the scene of gore. He lived in Brighton Beach, six blocks from the restaurant. He has no known connection to the victims or the restaurant.

Police have charged Martunovich with murder, attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

"He was just screaming crazy words like, 'I'm killing everybody! This world is hell!' and everything. He was just screaming crazy things," said Ms Samantha Randazzo, co-owner of nearby Randazzo's Clam Bar where some Seafood Buffet customers hid during the killing spree, CBS New York reported.

Sources said Martunovich, who reportedly emigrated from Estonia as a teenager, was inspired to kill Chinese men after watching a movie which showed Chinese women being mistreated by Chinese men. 

Or so he says.

Police have not officially named the movie and Martunovich is currently under psychiatric evaluation. He claimed he was acting out of chivalry by defending Chinese women.

Martunovich's mother, Ms Svetlana Chalmers, called her son mentally ill and an old friend of his said he "sounded kind of crazy" when they spoke recently.

 

"He's a crazy person - that's it," Ms Chalmers, 57, told Daily News. "I don't know how he got that way. Nobody knows. Only God knows."

She added that her son was a "normal person" when she moved from Brooklyn to Pennsylvania a year ago.

Mr Aleksandr Krupetskiy, a former longtime pal of Martunovich, said he reconnected with the suspect a week or two ago after the two men lost touch with each other for more than a year. He did not sound himself, said Mr Krupetskiy.

"He was saying things that sounded off, sounded kind of crazy," Mr Krupetskiy was quoted as saying by New York Post.

"He was telling me about some personal stuff that I'd told him a couple months ago - but we hadn't spoken a couple months ago."

Martunovich has no known criminal history in New York before the killings, New York Post reported.

He was suspected in a 2016 assault, but was never charged, according to the news report. He was also the victim of two assault cases which took place in 2004 and 2016 but no arrest was made in either incident, Daily News reported.