NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — They were allegedly swinging sticks and slinging racial slurs. Three people have been charged with beating a Brooklyn man and police are investigating it as a hate crime.
As CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported, the victim recorded it on his cell phone and shared the footage exclusively with CBS2.
It started as a fender-bender in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. Ruben Werczbeger’s car was hit from behind.
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While surveying the damage, investigators say three people on the sidewalk who had nothing to do with the accident attacked Werczberger, an orthodox Jew who wears a beard, side curls, and a yarmulke.
They came out of nowhere and smashed Werczberger’s windshield with a two by four, allegedly because he’s Jewish.
Werczberger is Hasidic and was driving to his Borough Park home on Tuesday night, when he got into a fender bender in Sunset Park. Minutes later three people, two of them women, attacked.
He recorded what happened on his phone.
When Werczberger is heard telling one of the alleged assailants that they will be arrested, they reply that they do not care.
“I don’t give a shit,” Linda Gonzalez, 32, said.
“He actually called me from a bystander’s phone because they took away his phone,” friend, Yidel Perlstein said.
Perlstein rushed to the scene at 4th Ave and 52nd Street when he got the call.
The Community Board 12 Chair spoke to CBS2 on Werczberger’s behalf because the 38-year-old is too upset to talk about what happened.
“They approached the car and they started yelling at him, ‘move the car, move the car, you (expletive) Jew, move the car. If this (expletive) Jew doesn’t move the car.’ I don’t want to repeat what they said. All kind of languages,” he said.
After assaulting Werczberger, investigators say they stole his phone and took off, but GPS tracking and a neighborhood tip led police to a house a block away. That’s where they arrested Gonzalez, Cindy Colletti, and Vischal Budhram.
District Attorney Ken Thompson created the office’s first ever hate crime bureau to prosecute cases like this.
“We can’t have people getting attacked on the streets of Brooklyn because of who they are,” Thompson said.
The damage to Werczberger’s car is clear, but Perlstein said the emotional damage runs deeper.
“They thought it was a perfect opportunity to find a helpless Jewish man standing there, who looks a little different from that neighborhood. I think that’s an outrage,” Perlstein said.
Werczberger did not suffer any serious injuries.
Despite there being video evidence of the crime, which helps in prosecuting the case, D.A. Thompson said he does not encourage people to record criminal acts because ti can jeopardize their safety and make the attackers even more angry.
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