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.
🚨WANTED🚨for an Assault inside 398 Buffalo Ave (Lincoln Terrace Park) #weeksville #brooklyn @NYPD77Pct On 08/27/19 @ 7:40 AM 💰Reward up to $2500👓Seen him? Know who he is?☎️Call 1-800-577-TIPS or DM us!📞Calls are CONFIDENTIAL! #yourcityyourcall pic.twitter.com/J4hJ2D2ekk— NYPD Crime Stoppers (@NYPDTips) August 28, 2019
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.
A 64 year old Jewish man was violently assaulted in Rochester Park in Crown Heights. THIS is the weapon that was used against him.— Councilman Deutsch (@ChaimDeutsch) August 27, 2019
Has it become too dangerous for openly religious Jewish men to walk the streets of NYC?@NYPDHateCrimes is currently investigating this attack. https://t.co/iWMHYzEMGO pic.twitter.com/2IO74a5edp
"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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