Forest Hills Jewish community, NYPD at odds over recent assault of local teenager

Forest Hills Jewish community, NYPD at odds over recent assault of local teenager
File Photo
By Mark Hallum

While cops are classifying a recent beating of a Bukharian teen — and other violent incidents — as gang-related rather than bigoted, a number of Forest Hills residents insist that the episodes are, in fact, driven by anti-Semitism.

Neighborhood Community Officers (NCOs) from the 112th Precinct’s Sector C addressed community concerns, claiming that the Nov. 29 assault involving 16-year-old David Paltielov was just one incident of hate, which appears to be on the rise in the neighborhood.

“There have been a lot of kids getting out of school at 5 o’clock and getting into fights. We’ve had some injuries, we’ve had kids carrying weapons, it’s a school-related thing. We have more resources this week than we had last week, we were kind of caught off guard by the fights,” Officer David Bleck said. “It’s schoolyard kids getting into a beef and there’s some retaliation.”

One audience member pressed the officers to acknowledge that the attack on Paltielov was a hate crime, claiming that he did not know the large group of people who confronted him, as he attends a local yeshiva rather than Forest Hills High School. The audience member said that videos of the incident demonstrate the crowd making anti-Semitic remarks.

“At Forest Hills High School, there’s been a bit of beef between some of the Russian Jewish kids and some of the Hispanic and black kids,” one of the NCO officers responded. “On [Nov. 28], there was a fight where one of the Spanish kids got beat up. Now on Thursday, there was a group of Spanish people who were seeking retribution for this fight… The boy, David, who unfortunately got assaulted, was not involved.”

Paltielov was still at Elmhurst Hospital in stable condition after the assault.

Jonathan Torres, 18, and Victor Hidalgo, 17, were taken into custody Thursday and both were charged with felony gang assault. The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force investigated the case and determined that it was not a case of bigotry.

Bleck said the citywide School Safety Task Force, anti-crime plainclothes officers and other units have been assigned to the area around Forest Hill High School, which seems to be where the issues are centered around.

NCO officers said a large group of teens at 108th Street moved its way toward the boundary of the 110th Precinct near Queens Center Mall Nov. 30 after being broken up by cops in Forest Hills. About 12 people were arrested from this group.

Officers from the 112th Precinct described this as a “perfect storm” with the excitement of fights earlier in the week and an early dismissal.

A meeting at the Alliance Of Bukharian Americans on Dec. 3 saw elected officials and members of the Bukharian community pressing representatives of the Queens District Attorney’s office and NYPD to investigate thoroughly and prosecute the incident involving Paltielov as a hate crime if necessary.

Many Jewish leaders at the meeting asserted that the incident was a hate crime and that law enforcement was not being tough enough on an apparent rise in antisemitism.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.