MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Queens man is under arrest for an apparent anti-Semitic incident that took place at the Five Towns Costco.
Nassau County Police said Justin Pichizaca, 20, threatened two men and an 11-year-old with violence and yelled slurs at them based on their religion.
Pichizaca had nothing to say as Nassau County Police escorted him from headquarters Tuesday, but police said he had plenty to say Sunday inside the Costco on Rockaway Turnpike in North Lawrence. He was caught on video threatening physical violence. The victims were shaken to the core and posted the video on social media.
Avrumi Fridman said he was in the men’s room at Costco when Pichizaca yelled “[expletive] Jew, the Nazis are gonna finish you off” at him.
Fridman wrote on Facebook that he then followed Pichizaca out of the bathroom and recorded the encounter that followed, in which Pichizaca allegedly threatened him.
“You want to say it to my face?” Fridman says.
“Record me all you want bro, ’cause the Nazis are going to [expletive] kill you,” Pichizaca says on the video.
After the recording stopped, Fridman said he notified a manager about the incident and to request he call the police.
According to Fridman, Pichizaca, who had followed him to the manager’s counter, then said “I’m going out to get my gun and will come back to shoot you up.”
The Costco manager then followed Pichizaca out and made note of the license plate as he drove off.
Fridman wrote that responding police initially told him he “wasn’t so smart” for following Pichizaca out of the restroom and confronting him, adding, “clearly this guy is mentally ill and you are provoking him.”
The case was subsequently referred to detectives, who made an arrest.
Pichizaca faces aggravated harassment and menacing charges. Nevertheless, after pleading not guilty and signing stay-away orders of protection from his alleged victims, the 20-year-old was released on his own recognizance, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
“These acts were violent, they were anti-Semitic, they were racial and they were anti-cop. I can’t think of a worse prescription for potential violence in the future than someone who spews that kind of hatred,” Hempstead Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman said.
“What my actions did was send a clear message to the perp and others like him that we will not stand idly by while Jews are verbally abused,” Fridman wrote. “Had I ignored him, who knows what he would do in a week from now, or in a year. He will continue to hate, but at least now he’ll think twice before acting on it. Let him hate all he wants as long as it stays in his house.
“For those who think I shouldn’t have ‘poked a sleeping bear,’ hear me out. Fully agree, my actions will in no way decrease anti-Semitism. No public statements will decrease the hatred in those that hate us,” Fridman continued. “For those who think my fist should have met his face, stop and think for a minute. What would that have accomplished?”
Ironically, Long Island officials Monday announced the formation of an island-wide anti-hate task force in response to a spate of anti-Semitic graffiti in the area.
“I do not recommend that most people do what I did. If you do not have the ability to defend yourself, it’s not worth the risk. What you can do is report events like this to the police, even if it can’t lead to charges,” Fridman added.