NYPD: Brutal Attack On 62-Year-Old Hasidic Man In Borough Park Was Case Of Mistaken Identity

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A suspect has been arrested on multiple charges after he allegedly viciously beat a man in Brooklyn on Sunday morning.

Authorities said the attack took place at around 7:30 a.m. in Borough Park near 46th Street and 13th Avenue.

Farrukh Afzal, 37, of Staten Island was charged with assault, hate crime, criminal mischief and harassment.

Leopold Schwartz, 62, told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez on Sunday evening he thought his life was over when a stranger, seemingly came out of nowhere and assaulted him.

“I was like this. And all of a sudden… boof, boof, boof, boof!” Schwartz said, referring to the barrage of punches that came his way. “So I start to fight back because it’s either death or life.”

Surveillance video shows Schwartz walking alone when a black livery car screeches to a halt at the curb behind him and the driver, allegedly Afzal, goes right after Schwartz.

Police told CBS2’s Sanchez that Afzal had mistaken Schwartz for another Hasidic man who had hit his car for no apparent reason while the driver was stopped at a red light.

“He came out from the car. I couldn’t explain to you how angry he was. He was screaming the whole time,” Schwartz said.

A father of nine, Schwartz said he managed to break free and run into the intersection, but he tripped.

“I fell down on the street. All of a sudden he’s on my head again, start to punch me. I screamed, ‘What you want from me?!? Help me please,'” Schwartz said.

A passerby approached to stop the attack, and Afzal went after him, police said. It was distraction that likely saved Schwartz. Witnesses kept the driver at the scene until cops arrived and arrested him.

“I’m telling you if he had a knife he would stab me right on the place. No doubt,” Schwartz said.

Officials with Brooklyn’s Community Board 12 tweeted Sunday morning that they had spoken with the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force and met with the victim at a local hospital.

State Assemblyman Dov Hikind praised the NYPD for the quick arrest.

“This attack was inexcusable,” Hikind said. “Watching the video of the incident or just hearing about it is traumatizing, especially to children and the elderly here, many of which survived the Holocaust. Thank God this guy is off the streets. This isn’t the wild west, this is Borough Park. We won’t allow violent, hateful behavior taking place on our streets.”

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