Police are clearing the air on rumors that Bukharian Jewish student at Forest Hills High School was beaten into a coma in a hate crime on Nov. 29, stating that the 16-year-old was never in a coma and that the incident is not considered as a bias crime.
But two youth, 17 and 18 years old, were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly attacking the student on Nov. 28 with charges pending, police said.
Law enforcement sources said said the attack happened at the corner of 108th Street and 64th Road as the victim was walking home from school at around 5 p.m. on Nov. 28. He was approached by two teens who began pushing, punching and kicking him.
The victim was transported to Elmhurst Hospital in stable condition, according to cops. Officers from the 112th Precinct responded to the incident.
Rumors began circulating that the assault may have been a bias crime. Community residents vented their concerns to 112th Precinct officers and elected officials during a Dec. 3 discussion at the Beth Gavriel Jewish Center. Videos of the discussion were posted on the Alliance Of Bukharian Americans’ Facebook page.
One attendee told Assemblyman David Weprin, state Senator Toby Stavisky, Councilman Rory Lancman and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, that the fears of Bukharians in Forest Hills, compared to where they came from originally, are no exaggeration.
“We’re not looking to fight. We’d like to live in peace. In Uzbekistan, we lived with muslims, we lived with all the religions like friends for many years and we never fought,” the man said in one of the videos. “Here it’s starting … for no reason.”
Mark Katz from the Queens District Attorney’s office, who was at the Dec. 3 meeting, said the NYPD Hate Crimes Unit investigated the attack and made the determination that the incident does not currently meet the legal qualifications of a hate crime, though additional information is still being sought.
“Both Sen. Stavisky and Council member Koslowitz said, anti-Semitism is on the rise and we have to take it very, very seriously,” Lancman said. He advocated for the community to keep pressure on law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office to do a thorough investigation.
“I will tell that it is very, very difficult to get the Police Department to actually investigate and declare that something is a hate crime … Not just for the Jewish community; I represent a large Muslim population as well,” Lancman added.
NYPD said the identity of the victim as well as the two individuals arrested are pending.
Waleska Mendez, a worker at Masbia Soup Kitchen on 64th Road, claimed the incident did not just involved two attackers, but two dozen. Alexander Rapaport, the founder of Masbia, posted a video of Mendez to Twitter in which she claimed to have warded off the attackers with a broom.