Assault on Jew in Brooklyn, Caught on Surveillance Camera, Being Investigated as Bias Crime
Two assailants were caught on camera on Thursday attacking a Jewish man in Brooklyn in what the NYPD is investigating as a possible bias crime, CBS New York reported.
The attack took place around 5:15 p.m., as Foli Spritzer, 35, operated a forklift outside his family’s paper goods warehouse on Brooklyn Avenue in Crown Heights. Surveillance footage shows two people approaching, one of whom, according to Spritzer, asked for the time. Spritzer — who has a long beard and wears a yarmulke — said he took out his cell phone and told the man what time it was. Just as he started to pull away with the forklift, he said, the other suspect punched him in the face.
“[It] came out of nowhere,” Spritzer recounted. “He didn’t ask me for any money; didn’t try to grab my phone while I was holding it.”
As the two men tried to run away, Spritzer jumped off the forklift and grabbed one of them by the shirt. Though unable to hold on to the one who had thrown the punch, he held down the other until police arrived.
Spritzer said it was “just my instinct” to grab onto the men who attacked him. He explained, “You get punched, you go after the guy who did it to you. No one should get away with that.”
The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the attack, and the arrested suspect, identified as Tarik Michael, 17, was charged with assault.
The Spritzer family, which has been in business in the Crown Heights area for 12 years, said they have never before faced such an incident. Yankel Spritzer, the victim’s father, told ABC 7 NY he believes the attack against his son was “premeditated.”
“It was planned. A Jewish guy on a high-low, let’s go get him,” he said, adding that his son could have been badly injured if he “wasn’t physically fit like he is.”
“That punch could have knocked out a few teeth,” he added. “I mean, look at the physical force that this guy used to throw that punch in that video – I mean, this guy was looking to hurt somebody.”
The victim’s brother, Mendy Spritzer, noted that the detained suspect said, “I didn’t do anything wrong. Let me go. Don’t hold me,” until police arrived at the scene. Mendy added that his brother “wanted to go, [but] we told him we are waiting for the police and he’ll tell them what happened.”
The victim said he believes the two men chose to attack him particularly. He told ABC 7 NY, “They could have picked anybody. They circled around, and I think chose me personally for who I was.” He added, “I hate to say it, but I like to think because of what I look like.”
He said he had felt that the two men were scouting him as he worked outside on Thursday afternoon. He said, “I sort of sensed that something was amiss; something was up to no good.”
He returned to work on Friday afternoon, but said he was still shaken from the attack. He expressed concern for the safety of the local Jewish community and his son. He said he is now extra cautious about who is around him.
“I can stand up and I can defend myself, but my 10-year-old – you know, it gets you thinking in the morning if I should allow him to go out or not,” he said. “You always try to put eyes in the back of your head to see who’s behind you.”