Rabbi hit with rock in Brooklyn speaks out about the violent attack

CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Police in Brooklyn are searching for the man who struck a rabbi with a large rock, leaving him with missing teeth and bruises on his face.

Police said 63-year-old Rabbi Abraham Gopin was working at Lincoln Terrace Park in Crown Heights around 8 a.m. Tuesday when a man threw a large piece of construction material in his direction.

He defended himself by punching back, but the attacker picked up another rock and threw it.

The rabbi was struck in the face, knocking out his front teeth and causing a laceration to his forehead. The struggle continued before the suspect fled the location on foot.

"He was about to kill me," Gopin said.

Gopin, who was wearing a yarmulke at the time, said he believes this was a hate crime.

"Definitely, because a very short time before, a lady -- a Caribbean lady -- was jogging over there and (he) didn't touch her, and he saw me and he jumped like a tiger. So by his act, I would say it was a hate crime," he said.

He also said he thought heard the man yell "dirty Jew" at him. The victim's son-in-law, Benny Friedman, called those words "painful."

Councilman Chaim Deutsch tweeted out a picture of the rock he said was used in the attack.

"No one deserves to go into a park to enjoy our outdoors only to leave in a stretcher," Deutsch said.

UPDATE: Police have arrested 26-year-old Oniel Gilbourne in connection with this incident. He is charged with assault as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon.

Anyone with additional information in regards to the above incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

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