MEIERS CORNER, Staten Island — Both the NYPD and local Jewish safety patrols have stepped up their presence in Staten Island, and the Hate Crimes Task Force is now investigating as well, after a BB gun attack that appears to have targeted a Jewish man and his young son.
It happened at around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, and has spread concern among residents.
“I feel very frightened,” said Bernie Zimmerman, who lives within walking distance of Island Kosher Supermarket, at 2212 Victory Blvd. “It’s a scary thing to have people shoot pellets at you.”
It was when the man, 32, and his son, 7, were exiting the market that the got hit by the pellets. In some cases, BB pellets can permanently injure or even kill their targets. In this latest case, the father was hit in the chest, and the son was grazed on one of his ears. Both are expected to be OK, after refusing medical attention.
They were struck by the two shots that were apparently fired by somebody in a black Ford Mustang GT that either had its license plates obscured, or they were missing.
On Monday, the NYPD, as well as the Shōmrim and Shmira Jewish safety patrols had increased their presence.
“I wish they didn’t have to be here,” Zimmerman continued. “We all should be able to live with each other, and have a nice life, and not want to hurt each other.”
Many of the customers of the kosher market are Jewish, including the father and son who were shot. However, Michael LaCagnina, who lives just a few doors away from the market, and who said he’s not Jewish, said that the crime affects everyone in the area.
“If it was random, or it was purposely done, it wasn’t right,” he said. “Not in this neighborhood. Not in any neighborhood.”
The attack happened as new hate crime numbers have been released by the NYPD that show a disturbing trend in the city, in comparing November 2021 to November of this year.
While crimes against Asians and Muslims are down, the overall hate crime rate is up 70 percent. That’s due in part to a 125 percent rise in antisemitic crimes, according to the NYPD, as well as a jump of 500 percent in anti-Black crimes.
Scott Richman, the executive director of the Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey, said that the latest apparent attack is part of a larger problem that’s on the rise.
“This is really sick, is what it is,” he said about the kosher market attack, and also pointed out that his anti-hate organization keeps seeing increases in hate crimes year after year.
Despite that, Richman said, he still sees reasons to be hopeful.
“We have a lot of people speaking out, a lot of allies, which feels great,” he said in an interview. “I do hope that we’ll see these numbers [of hate crimes] decrease as more and more people say, ‘This is unacceptable.’”
Mayor Eric Adams was among the voices speaking out. During the question and answer segment of a news conference on Monday, he called for hate crimes to be prosecuted as harshly as possible.
“No plea bargains,” he said, adding that any hate crime arrest must be pursued to the utmost extent. “They need to be held fully accountable.”