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Man Suspected of Throwing Acid on Visiting Chinese Teacher a Day After He Was Released from Jail

Sebastian Mahkwan has been charged with second-degree attempted murder in connection with the alleged attack on Danying Zhang, authorities say

<p>The Hawai

The Hawai'i Department of Public Safety; Honolulu Police Department

Sebastian Mahkwan
  • Sebastian Mahkwan was released from jail a day before the alleged attack, per reports

  • Danying Zhang suffered severe burns and life-threatening injuries, authorities say

  • Danying Zhang was a visiting teacher from China

Police in Hawaii have arrested and charged a man in connection with an alleged acid attack on a woman in Honolulu on Jan. 23, authorities say.

The victim has been identified as a 25-year-old visiting teacher from China, Danying Zhang, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Island News and Hawaii News Now.

She was allegedly attacked while on a walk in the evening outside a mall, the Honolulu Police Department said in a statement last week.

Zhang reportedly told witnesses that she was walking by a Planet Fitness when an unknown man threw an unknown liquid at her, “causing her skin and clothes to burn,” per the statement.

Zhang ran into the nearby gym for help, where witnesses assisted her until medical personnel arrived, the statement said.

On Jan. 25, Honolulu authorities arrested a 29-year-old man, they said in an updated statement. He was identified as Sebastian Mahkwan in a statement from the prosecuting attorney’s office.

On Tuesday, a week after the attack, a grand jury indicted Mahkwan on charges of attempted murder in the second degree and assault in the first degree, the prosecuting attorney’s office said.

“Anyone simply walking in a public place has the right to feel safe,” the statement said. “Mr. Mahkwan is accused of violating that right and critically injuring an innocent person.”

The statement further said the victim “suffered life-threatening injuries.”

Authorities have not discussed a possible motive.

Emergency medical professional that treated Zhang said that the victim’s severe injury was followed by another health concern: Once she was intubated, the chemical ended up in her mouth, burning it and causing her lungs to collapse, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported, citing a complaint filed in the district court.

“The brutal attack has left her unconscious, and she is now fighting for her life in the hospital,” states a GoFundMe organized by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii.

“Her parents are still in China and she is alone by herself pursuing her education career in Hawaii,” the fundraising page said.

Zhang is recovering and has been able to breathe without a tube for two days, one of the organizers of the fundraiser, Sonny Zhang (not related to the victim), tells PEOPLE.

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Mahkwan had been released from jail on $8,000 bail a day before the attack, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. He had been detained since October on assault charges. (He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.)

His bail has now been set at $2 million, the outlet reported.

Attorney information for Mahkwan was not available; he is set to be arraigned on Monday on the attempted murder charges, online court records show.

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