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'Really emotional day:' Olivia Munn reacts after social media helps find suspect in attack on friend's mom

As the country sees a surge in anti-Asian violence since the onset of the pandemic, Oliva Munn shares her reaction to the arrest of a suspect in an attack she called out on social media.
/ Source: TODAY

Olivia Munn is empowering the public to speak out amid a surge in anti-Asian violence across the country after an arrest was made in a violent attack in New York City that Munn drew attention to on social media.

"It was a really emotional day," the 40-year-old actor told NBC News' Vicky Nguyen of finding out an arrest had been made in the assault on her friend's mother.

"To wake up that morning and see that overnight the people had come up and stepped up for us and said, 'Hey, we're gonna help you find this guy,' and they actually found him ... I felt that our people were seen."

On Feb. 17, "The Newsroom" star tweeted two photos of the suspect taken by witnesses to the incident, which occurred a day earlier in the borough of Queens. The victim's son is a friend of Munn's, and the actor has hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter.

On Thursday, police arrested Patrick Mateo, 47, and charged him with assault and harassment. In a statement, the NYPD said "numerous tips from the community" played a key role in the bust, calling it "a prime example of the Community & the Police working together."

"When you speak up, people do care," Munn said, adding that she's been moved by "all the goodness in the world" in response to her post.

In particular, one act of kindness by the NYPD stuck with her. The victim had been on her way to a bakery when the suspect charged and violently shoved her.

"They went and brought Sam's mom egg tarts because she was in line at the bakery to get egg tarts, and she wasn't able to get them," Munn said.

"The NYPD didn't have to do that. ... There's so many people with such good hearts," she said. "And so if you can learn to not be afraid and not to just bury your own pain, you'll see that there are so many people in our world who want to help us."

Olivia Munn used social media to identify a suspect after her friend's mother was attacked last week in the Queens borough of New York City.Presley Ann / Getty Images

Although Munn has a much larger reach on social media than the average user, she urged more people to raise their voices to prevent future violence.

And she's willing to help anyone who shares evidence of anti-Asian hate with her on social media, she said.

"By speaking up, by doing this, it's going to stop other people from doing it to more of our elders, to more people in our community," she said. "It's not enough just for you to take it on the chin. You have to speak up so that it helps everyone else."

Since the COVID-19 epidemic began in the U.S., there has been a rise in the number of racist attacks against Asians, TODAY reported.

There were 18 attacks in the San Francisco area this month alone, one of which killed an 84-year-old immigrant from Thailand.

Last year, the New York City area saw an 800% increase in hate incidents against Asian Americans, from three in 2019 to 27 in 2020.