A vicious attack on a man walking to shul shocked New York City this past Sunday. And in its aftermath, there are some questions about the safety not just of those walking the streets of the city but also those using car service companies to get around.
The terrifying event took place at 7:30 in the morning, and was caught on security cameras. Lipa Schwartz, a 62-year-old resident of Boro Park, was walking down 13th Avenue on his way to shul for Shacharis. Near 46th Street, he stopped, apparently in response to the sound of a car driving wildly down the avenue.
The car, a black car similar to those used by car service drivers, stopped near Mr. Schwartz. The driver, later identified as 37-year-old Farrukh Afzal, a resident of Staten Island, jumped out, rushed to the sidewalk, and began beating Mr. Schwartz, who fled into the middle of the street. The driver chased him, tossed him violently to the ground repeatedly and continued to beat him until a bystander interceded. Afzal was eventually detained by Shomrim and arrested by the NYPD.
Mr. Schwartz was taken to the hospital with what the NYPD termed “minor lacerations.” Had the attacker not been distracted, though, one political observer noted to Ami, there might have been a terrible tragedy as a result of the frenzied attack.
Part of the question surrounding the attack has been whether it will be considered a hate crime by the justice system. While initial media reports stated that the NYPD had decided to consider the crime just a road rage incident and that Afzal had claimed he had attacked Mr. Schwartz because he believed he had hit Afzal’s car (a ridiculous claim, observers noted), the NYPD later told Ami that it charged Afzal with a hate crime in addition to harassment and assault charges.