Attack on Upper West Side Jewish bookstore manager investigated as hate crime

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Police are investigating an assault on the manager of a Jewish bookstore in Manhattan as a hate crime.

Authorities say the 52-year-old victim, who works at the West Side Judaica at West 89th Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side, was attacked by a man who cursed and threatened Jewish people Monday afternoon.

The victim said he noticed a man pacing outside around 1 p.m., so he exited the store and approached him. The suspect reportedly declared "(Expletive) you Jews. I'll kill you. I'm a Muslim."

Police say he then punched the victim multiple times and fled the store on a scooter.

"Unbelievable," area resident Joel Grossman said. "That's just like him to come out and try to help somebody. That's just like him. He's a terrific guy."

Many of them stopped by the shop Tuesday to check on the victim, who was not seriously hurt.

"These people are really wonderful people," B'nai Jeshurun Rabbi Rolando Matalon said. "They've been part of the fabric of this neighborhood, and their customers adore them."

The NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the attack as a possible bias incident.

Officials from the Anti-Defamation League said they were deeply disturbed by the allegations of the anti-Semitic assault.

"We are deeply disturbed by this horrific assault and shocked that it occurred in broad daylight in a neighborhood where Jews largely do not fear being singled out for violence," New York regional director Evan Bernstein said. "We are glad that the NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating as a potential hate crime...The NYPD's response to anti-Semitic incidents across the five boroughs has been exemplary. We are confident (the) NYPD will examine all the facts, including the perpetrator's alleged remarks, to determine whether the attack was indeed motivated by anti-Jewish animus."

According to the league's annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, which tracks both criminal and non-criminal acts of anti-Semitism, New York State experienced a 14 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2014, including 54 incidents in Manhattan and 147 citywide.
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.