Police looking into possible hate crimes against Jews

By Madina Toure

Police were investigating two possible hate crimes in Kew Gardens Hills in which Jewish victims were hit by BB guns.

On Sept. 18, a 25-year-old man was walking southbound in front of 75-10 150th St. when he felt something hit his left leg, according to a police spokeswoman.

His left leg was bleeding, apparently from a BB gun, the spokeswoman said, noting that the victim did not see anyone or hear the BB gun being shot.

Another victim, a 28-year-old man, was walking home at about 7:55 p.m. Sept. 11 around 150th Street and 73rd Avenue and heard a pop and felt pain on his back, the spokeswoman said.

He discovered a pellet in his back, which was then removed by a private doctor, she said. He ended up having a small puncture in the middle of his back.

Although police have not yet determined whether the assaults are hate crimes, City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) said that the two incidents occurred near Lander College for Men, a Jewish college and yeshiva located at 75-31 150th St.

He noted that the Jewish community is already on high alert given the increase in the number of hate crimes targeting Jews in New York City over the last year.

“Both of the victims were identifiably Jewish individuals and so we’re concerned not only that there’s criminal activity going on but that it might be hate-crime related, and we want to make sure that the public is aware so that they can be careful, but also so that they can keep their eyes open,” Lancman said.

He also said that Jewish institutions, including his synagogue, Young Israel of Hillcrest, hire off-duty police officers and other private security to patrol the synagogues during the major holidays to prevent attacks. Rosh Hashana was last week and Yom Kippur this week.

They also extend resources to train members of the congregation to serve as volunteer security during the holidays, he said.

State Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing) said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the recent incidents.

“We live in a community that should celebrate and be proud of our diversity,” Simanowitz said in a statement. “Acts of bigotry will not be tolerated or go unpunished. I am confident that all perpetrators will be brought to justice, ending a recent string of shameful crimes.”

Evan Bernstein, the New York regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. said: “If the reports are accurate, these incidents are deeply disturbing because of their violent nature, and the fact that they took place during one of the holiest times of the Jewish year.”

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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