The NYPD is stepping up patrols in the neighborhood after a young Jewish man was stabbed in the back Wednesday in an apparent random attack, which by department leaders and the mayor called a “potential hate crime.”
The stabbing happened in front of a home on Empire Boulevard between Albany and Kingston avenues just before noon in Crown Heights, police said.
The victim was slashed once in the back with an unknown weapon by a male suspect. He then walked to a nearby check cashing store to seek help, an employee there said.
The man was transported from the store to Kings County Hospital to be treated for a collapsed lung, police said. His injuries are non-life-threatening, however, and he is expected to make a full recovery, sources said.
Police released video of the suspect, who is in his 20s, about 5 feet 10 inches and 180 pounds, as he ran down the street wearing a dark jacket, blue hoodie, dark pants, black pants and carrying a black backpack.
The attack happened in the heart of the Lubavitch Jewish community in Crown Heights and initial reports from some local news sites speculated the stabbing was racially motivated; police sources said the victim is Jewish and the suspect is black.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said the department is looking into the incident as a possible hate crime because the victim was dressed in “Hasidic garb,” he said at a press conference for a triple fatal stabbing of a mother and her two daughters on Staten Island.
At the same press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is “very concerned” about the incident and affirmed the status of the investigation.
“We are looking at it as a potential hate crime,” he said.
Extra patrols will be added in the neighborhood in the next few days to address community concerns surrounding the incident, sources said. Officers will be assigned to cover the area where the assault took place, local schools and other high-profile locations.
Hours after the assault, the Anti-Defamation League offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the stabbing suspect. In a statement, the ADL described the attack as part of a “troubling pattern” of anti-Semitic crimes in Brooklyn.
The suspect in Wednesday’s assault is still at large.
On Wednesday afternoon at the location of the stabbing, a police van was parked outside the home where the assault took place and crime tape blocked the sidewalk.
Nearby, the check cashing store operated normally. An employee there said the store closed briefly after the stabbing because a woman working there had become overwhelmed and gone home, but it reopened soon afterward.
Local politicians, including State Sen. Jesse Hamilton and Council Member Laurie Cumbo, took to Twitter Wednesday afternoon to condemn the act of violence.