Hispanic restaurant workers attacked in Englewood

April 4, 2013 3:23:43 PM PDT
Police believe Hispanics are being targeted for violence in a northern New Jersey city.

Two attacks happened Tuesday.

The first was before 3 a.m. as a 27-year-old man walked through Depot Park.

"He was attacked by four black males, they went through his pockets, he fought back, they ran off, he had head injuries," said Captain Tim Torell, Englewood Police Department.

Then at 8:30, a 47-year-old man was jumped at Palisades and James Streets near the busy main drag.

He described his attackers as two 14-year-olds, being pushed on by a group of older men.

"As they demanded money from him, one motioned to his waistband like he had a gun," Torell said.

These are just two of six known attacks against Hispanic immigrant restaurant workers in recent weeks.

Torell believes more attacks have happened, but victims are afraid to report it, because of their immigration status.

Restaurant owner Oriol Acosta has a friend who was robbed.

"They jump him, take credit cards, money, wallet, I tell them go to the police, or come tell me and I'll tell police," Acosta said.

Police say this may be a gang activity spike they see around Easter and Halloween.

"That coupled with they were wearing all black, and we have a gang in town that does that," Torell said.

"I heard about it, I didn't know it was still happening, it's nonsense," said Omar Smith, an Englewood resident.

Police have stepped up patrols and are asking victims to come forward to help them ID the suspects. There will be no questions beyond the crime asked.

"We don't run crime victims through the data system, we want to help you," Torell said.

But the fear may be overwhelming for some.

"I tell them all the time, don't be scared. (But they still are?) They are," Acosta said.