NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police are investigating a possible hate crime in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
A 63-year-old man was attacked with a paving stone while exercising in a park.
The suspect allegedly yelled an anti-Semitic slur before blindsiding the victim.
Abraham Gopin was jogging near the ballfields inside Lincoln Terrace Park around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday when he was attacked.
“There was a battlefield… When he saw me, he jumped towards me… Shutting rocks with full force towards my head,” he told CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis. “Then, he jumped on me and start to fight with me, trying to knock me in the face – probably, I would say, 20, 25, 30 times with his fists, and I was protecting myself.”
Gopin’s family said a stranger approached him in the park, yelled a slur and punched him in the face. The suspect then hit the 63-year-old over the head with a paving stone, breaking his nose and knocking out his teeth.
“It was a hate… he said Jew, Jew. He said something in that direction,” he said. “He was for certain looking to kill. No doubt about it.”
The beloved father of 10 and grandfather returned to the scene of the crime Wednesday morning.
“To overcome the experience, to overcome and to go out stronger,” he said.
According to the NYPD, there have been 145 anti-Semitic hate crime complaints in the city so far this year – up from 88 complaints in the same time last year.
“To just walk into a park to enjoy themselves and leave in a stretcher, and that is totally unacceptable,” New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch said. “We are in a crisis here in New York City. We need to do more to prevent such incidents from happening, and we need to work together as communities.”
“Unfortunately, these kind of events are becoming more and more prevalent,” said Gopin’s son-in-law Benny Friedman.
The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating this despicable act of violence, and we will find the attacker.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) August 27, 2019
I'm disgusted by the vicious attack on Avraham Gopin this morning in Crown Heights' Lincoln Terrace Park. No one should be attacked, hate-fueled or not. Violence is violence, wrong is wrong. Contact @NYPDNews if you have any information on this crime. https://t.co/zSXx3065dF
— Eric Adams (@BPEricAdams) August 27, 2019
Gopin and his family said they’re just grateful he made it out of the park alive.
“I had a miracle from God,” he said.
“There’s no question that things could have [been] far worse than they are now. I believe he’s going to continue living just the way he was,” Friedman added.
Now, the Anti-Defamation League and NYPD Crime Stoppers are offering a reward for information leading to an arrest.