NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police on Monday night were investigating an alleged hate crime in Brooklyn that was caught on security video.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, two Muslim women said a man yelled and spat at them – and the suspect is believed to be a U.S. postal worker.
The incident happened this past Friday evening on busy Nostrand Avenue, near Halsey Street, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. It was captured by surveillance videos at the NBA Deli Grocery.
The two Muslim women, wearing traditional headscarves as one of them pushed a stroller with a baby, were accosted by a man on the sidewalk.
“He approached them and started harassing them, assaulting them, and even spat on them,” said Sadyia Khalique of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Khalique said the man used some ugly language.
“For instance, there was conversation about, you know, ‘You’re a terrorist,’ and also about how, ‘I’m going to blow up your temple,’” she said.
Khalique said the women were frightened and went into a deli, where a manager intervened as the man continued to berate the women.
“The lady had a stroller, he come by,” said deli manager Jamel Abdulla. “I want to stop. I don’t (want) him touch the lady, the lady got a baby.’”
Abdulla said he recognized the man as a local postal worker who often stops in on his route to buy a can of beer.
“He make a lot of noise in the street all the time,” Abdulla said.
Indeed, many in the neighborhood said they have seen the postal worker acting strangely.
“He’s just rather loud and obnoxious,” said J. D. Estrill of Breukelen Cellars. “I thought at first he might have had some type of illness like Tourette syndrome.”
CBS2 showed the video to several workers at the Post Office three blocks away on Atlantic Avenue, but they said they could not identify the man.
Muslim leaders urged officers to locate and question the man.
“It’s of high concern because you see, in this week alone, we’ve had about five cases of hate incidents – and they were all Muslim women who wear the head scarf,” Khalique said.
On Friday, the older woman clearly had enough of the man bothering her. He took off when she yelled back.
The NYPD and the Postal Inspection Service are investigating the incident.
There is concern about anti-Muslim backlash after the Paris terror attacks. But the NYPD said the number of anti-Muslim incidents reported to the Hate Crimes Task Force is actually down 43 percent this year versus last.