Hatzalah stabbing leads to manhunt, $10K reward and call for surveillance camera network

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CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn -- There's now a $10,000 reward offered and a manhunt underway for the masked man who stabbed a medic for the Hatzalah Jewish ambulance service.

That crime, coupled with another possible anti-Semitic criminal act in this neighborhood within 10 hours of each other, has some people in the community wondering if there's a disturbing pattern of violence connected to issues in the Middle East.

It's also led to a call for a network of surveillance cameras in the area.

Around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night, somebody stabbed the off-duty medic as he walked along Eastern Parkway near Rogers Avenue. Police have not officially released the victim's name while his attacker is at large.

The slashing left a 3-inch wound near the 34-year-old man's right shoulder. He told police that his attacker was wearing a black hoodie, and his face was covered with a Halloween mask. The victim is expected to fully recover.

Then, around 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, police arrested a man for assaulting an Orthodox Jewish man who was on his way to synagogue. The NYPD said that the suspect used expletives to say he hated Jews, during his arrest.

The two incidents, in close geographic and time proximity to each other, helped to spur a rally of unity on Wednesday afternoon.

"We know how to live together," announced Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams at the interfaith and multi-cultural event in front of the Jewish Children's Museum, near the scenes of the attacks. "We're not going to allow the small minded people to take what we have spent so many years bringing together," he said, referring to community building that has happened since the Crown Heights riots nearly a quarter century ago, which pitted Jewish and black residents against each other.

There was relief that in neither of the most recent incidents was there loss of life.

"Thank God that in this instance we're not mourning," said the director of the Jewish Community Center, "but we sure are upset."

At the same time, other issues persisted. In the past six weeks in Israel, 11 Israelis and 68 Palestinians have died in violence that has seen stabbings and other attacks by Palestinians and Israeli police and military retaliation.

One of the borough's most prominent Jewish leaders, State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat from Borough Park/Midwood, said that he doubts there is a connection between Tuesday night's stabbing and the violence in Israel.

However, he said, concern is heightened by the fact that the Crown Heights stabber is still on the loose. Hikind said he's working with Borough President Adams on a plan to create a network of surveillance cameras for the area, adding that there's an unfortunate frequency of bias crimes in Crown Heights that he believes the camera network could help to stem.

"What are we waiting for?" asked Hikind, who mentioned that in his community, cameras had been installed in the wake of the Leiby Kletzky abduction and murder four years ago, and he pints out that a business's surveillance camera captured the abduction as evidence against confessed killer Levi Aron.

"It just makes sense," he said.