Attacks on Hasidic Man Heading to Synagogue, Off-Duty Hatzolah EMT Investigated as Hate Crimes: Police

A man yelled that he was “fed up with Jews” while being handcuffed by police following an attack on a Hasidic man heading to a local synagogue in Brooklyn, authorities and witnesses say.

Christian Rojas, 36, was cuffed after the attack on Lefferts Avenue in Crown Heights around 5:45 a.m. Wednesday, according to the NYPD. Charges for the man weren’t immediately available.

Authorities say the victim was dressed in traditional Hasidic garb and was reading a prayer from his phone when Rojas allegedly approached.

The attacker knocked the phone out of the victim’s hand and punched him in the face.

A woman who saw the attack and later called 911 described it to NBC 4 New York as “relentless.”

A witness who only gave her name as Sarah said Rojas screamed, "Watch this face, I'll be back" and "I hate all Jews." 

"It was very, very upsetting and sad to hear that," she said. 

After he was handcuffed, Rojas allegedly made several anti-Semitic comments.

Local leaders Wednesday denounced the attack, along with the stabbing of a Hatzolah worker who was slashed several blocks away on Tuesday night. Both are now being investigated as hate crimes, police said. 

The suspect in the Hatzolah worker slashing was dressed in black with a black and white hockey mask, police said. He didn't shout anti-Semitic comments, but the EMT was wearing a yarmulke, and leaders said it was clearly premeditated.

"They were not attacking because of his duty as a safety patrol officer," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. "They were attacking him, it appears, due to his religious belief." 

The NYPD’s hate crimes unit is investigating the attacks. 

"This is not a Jewish issue. This is a New York issue. This is a human issue," said Michael Miller of the Jewish Community Relations Council. 

Councilman Dov Hikind said he wants to secure money to install more surveillance cameras in Crown Heights. 

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