NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of a man who attacked an off-duty ambulance worker in Brooklyn.
David Katz, an off-duty medic volunteer with Hatzolah, a private EMS organization that serves Jewish communities, was walking at Eastern Parkway and Rogers Avenue in Crown Heights when he was attacked from behind around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“He was screaming, ‘I’ve been stabbed! I’ve been stabbed!'” a witness said. “Police showed up like a minute later and right away closed the whole scene.”
Katz can be heard in radio transmissions frantically calling his colleagues for help.
“I’ve been stabbed,” he says.
Cellphone video shows Katz, 34, being tended to by his fellow medics in a Hatzolah ambulance shortly after the attack.
Friends of the victim said he always carries his radio and used it to call dispatch, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
According to police, the Katz said his attacker was wearing black sweatpants, a black hoodie and what was described as a white hockey mask. He said nothing before slashing Katz’ right shoulder and then running east down Eastern Parkway, police told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell.
Katz, who was not wearing his uniform, told police that he did not know his attacker and that it was completely unprovoked.
Katz is expected to make a full recovery. Police said he was not seriously injured.
So far, police said there is no indication as to whether the attack was a hate crime, though it is being investigated as a possible one.
“You do not do assaults wearing a mask merely because someone bumped into you,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said. “You did it because you had a premeditative action.”
Police spent the overnight and early morning scouring the area for evidence as they try to find the suspect. Extra police officers were on patrol Wednesday morning near Eastern Parkway, and fliers had been posted asking for tips about the case, Burrell reported.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind wondered if this is in any way linked to a series of stabbings in Israel, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
“That is the natural inclination of people in the Jewish community,” Hikind said.
The incident left neighbors concerned.
“It’s terrible, you have to watch and you have to be careful; wherever you go you have to look around,” Rabbi Sholom Gorodetsky, who knows the victim, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria.
“It’s never good to hear that where you live there’s a possibility of crime happening so close to home, so I’m kind of in shock, too,” said Shaunee Morgan.
“It doesn’t shock me ’cause this is New York, but around here, it doesn’t really happen,” said Darren Paterson.
“We’re very concerned in the neighborhood because people they’re walking there, and it’s kind of disturbing,” one man said. “I know what’s being done about it, but I think it deserves a lot of attention.”
In another possible anti-Semitic attack in Crown Heights, police say an Orthodox Jewish man was assaulted on his way to synagogue at 5:45 a.m. Wednesday morning.
The incident happened outside 645 Lefferts Ave. The victim was punched in the face and suffered a bloody nose, police said.
At this point, police don’t believe the incidents are related, D’Auria reported.
Police arrested Christian Rojas, 36, in connection to the assault. He is charged with with assault, aggravated assault as a hate crime, and aggravated harassment for religion.
The suspect in the first case is still on the loose. An award of $5,000 is being offered from the Anti-Defamation League and another $5,000 from the Crown Heights Community Council.