Fil-Am journalist insists he's a hate crime victim

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Mar 26 2014 11:57 AM | Updated as of Mar 27 2014 01:57 AM

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."

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

"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 said 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 continue to raise funds through events like the one at the Purple Yam, a Filipino restaurant in Brooklyn.

Purple Yam's Chef-Owner Romy Dorotan said, "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."

Gener is on the road to recovery but with scars and a blurred memory of what happened on the night of his attack, he said 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."