A driver brutally attacked a 62-year-old Jewish man who was on the way to a synagogue service on Oct. 14 in New York, video footage shows. The Jewish man said his attacker was shouting “Allah” repeatedly.
Schwartz was on his way to a synagogue in Borough Park, Brooklyn, when he suddenly saw a driver stop, jump out of his car, and target him, he told local news website Boro Park 24. The traumatized Schwartz said “I saw death before my eyes.”
The attack, captured on video, took place near 46th Street and 13th Avenue around 7:30 a.m.
The 37-year-old suspect, Farrukh Afzal from Staten Island, was charged with assault, hate crime, criminal mischief, and harassment, CBS2 reported. But on Oct. 15, prosecutors dropped the hate-crime distinction from the assault charge at his arraignment, the New York Post reported.
“All of a sudden… boof, boof, boof, boof!” Schwartz told CBS2, imitating the pummelling he experienced on Oct. 14.
“So I start to fight back because it’s either death or life.”
I'm horrified by this unprovoked vicious assault on an elderly member of our community. Justice needs to be served swiftly and fully. Thank you @BPShomrim and @NYPD66Pct for the quick response. pic.twitter.com/ET9ReklotR
— Barry Spitzer (@bspitzer) October 14, 2018
Schwartz allegedly told a state assemblyman that Afzal was shouting “Allah” and “Israel” repeatedly while brutally punching him, according to Fox News.
“I fell down on the street. All of a sudden he’s on my head again, start to punch me. I screamed, ‘What you want from me?!? Help me please,’” Schwartz told CBS2.
An unnamed witness said the attacker appeared to have targeted the man because he was Jewish.
“He was screaming at him that he hates the Jews and he would like to kill all the Jews,” the witness told New York Daily News.
When another man came to intervene, Schwartz was able to find his feet and leave, because Afzal began chasing the other man instead.
“If he had a knife he would stab me right on the place,” Schwartz, who has since been treated at a hospital for minor injuries, CBS2 reported.
Police told CBS2 that the driver had mistaken Schwartz for another man who had punched his car previously at another red light.
Witnesses called the NYPD and kept Afzal at the scene until police arrived to arrest him.
Police said Afzal has had eight prior arrests, the New York Post reported.
Afzal’s sister-in-law, Maira Riaz, told the New York Post on Oct. 15 that the attack wasn’t due to anti-Semitism.
“He’s a good guy, he just has a case of paranoia and schizophrenia. He’s been seeing things and believes he’s a prophet. He’s just off his meds.”
But State Assemblyman Dov Hikind said the language used by the suspect suggested it was a hate crime.
“This attack was inexcusable,” State Assemblyman Dov Hikind said, according to CBS2.
“Watching the video of the incident or just hearing about it is traumatizing, especially to children as well as the elderly here—many of whom survived the Holocaust.
“Thank God this guy is off the streets. This isn’t the wild west, this is Borough Park. We won’t allow violent, hateful behavior taking place on our streets.”