A man released without bail after allegedly fracturing another man’s skull in New York City has been taken back into custody, Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Friday.
Van Phu Bui, a 55-year-old convicted sex offender, was first arrested on Wednesday in connection with the unprovoked attack outside a Fordham Heights restaurant in the Bronx before 11 p.m. on Aug. 12. He was re-arrested on a parole violation on Friday.
Surveillance video shows a man approaching 52-year-old Jesus Cortes from behind and sucker punching him in the head. He says something to onlookers before apparently leaving the scene.
Cortes, a Mexican immigrant, suffered a fractured skull, a broken cheekbone and brain bleeding. He was knocked unconscious and eventually placed in a medically induced coma.
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Bui was released without bail on Thursday after Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark downgraded his initial attempted murder charge to misdemeanor assault and harassment. The move quickly triggered a public outcry as Bui’s criminal history began to unravel.
Bui, a Vietnamese immigrant, turned out to be on lifetime parole for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in 1994. He is a registered Level 3 sex offender, the highest classification on the registry.
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In an unrelated press conference on Friday afternoon, Hochul announced that she had personally ordered for Bui to be re-arrested.
“I took action into my own hands,” Hochul told reporters. “As of minutes ago, that person is now in custody. That is at my direction.”
Bui’s parole officer, Nixa Rivera, said his charges are expected to be upgraded to felonies. The suspect allegedly called her after the attack, saying he was in “trouble.”
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“I hit someone, and he’s in the hospital. I don’t know if he’s dead,” Bui allegedly said.
Cortes was reportedly making progress as of Sunday morning.