CROWN HEIGHTS – The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating after a Hasidic man was assaulted in a Brooklyn incident that was caught on camera.
Police say 35-year-old Foli Spritzer was operating a forklift, transferring pallets of cleaning supplies outside a store in Crown Heights around 5:30 p.m. Thursday when two young men attacked him without provocation.
Spritzer said he was outside the A1 Paper Goods store on Brooklyn Avenue when he was approached by the two suspects, who asked him for the time.
As the man took out his cell phone and answered them, one of them punched him in the face.
“He asked me for the time, which I pulled out my cell phone, out of my pocket and told him the time,” he said. “As I started pulling away, the other one reached in and just punched me in the face.”
The victim immediately jumped from the forklift and was able to grab and detain one of the suspects, but the one who threw the punch fled the scene.
“He wanted to go, we told him we are waiting for the police and he’ll tell them what happened,” the victim’s brother, Mendy Spritzer, said. “He said, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong. Let me go. Don’t hold me.”
Responding officers took custody of the suspect and are working to determine the identity and location of the second.
“They could have picked anybody,” Foli Spritzer said. “They circled around, and I think chose me personally for who I was.”
Next door in Wingate Park, where men gather in the outdoor gym to work out, there was surprise at the attack.
cecil simon / area resident
“These young dudes doing wild stuff in the streets, not knowing the repercussions behind it,” area resident Cecil Simon said. “You know, we are extending ourselves to him.”
The Spritzer family, which has had their business in the area for 12 years, say they have not seen this before.
“It was premeditated, it was planned,” father Yankel Spritzer said. “A Jewish guy on a high-low, let’s go get him.”
The incident is now being investigated as a possible bias crime. The suspects are believed to be teenagers.