Borough Park attacker charged with hate crime

Brooklyn's District Attorney designates Borough Park assault on hasidic Jew as a hate crime.

Tzvi Lev ,

NYPD (file)
NYPD (file)
Mendy Hechtman/Flash90

The man who assaulted a hasidic Jew in New York's haredi-dominated Borough Park neighborhood earlier this month was indicted by a grand jury for a hate crime.

The victim, 62-year-old father of nine Lipa Schwartz, suffered light head injuries during the attack, and was evacuated to Maimonides Hospital.

Kings Country District Attorney Eric Gonzalez decided to include the hate-crime distinction following an outcry from the Jewish community. Farrukh Afzal, 37, originally faced charges of assault, criminal mischief and harassment, but the vicious beating was not initially defined as a hate crime despite Afzal having yelled "Allah, Allah," during the attack.

Video footage shows Afzal pulling Schwartz into the street and savagely beating him. Afzal was arrested soon after the assault. After his identity was published, he was fired from his job at Church Avenue Car Service.

Afzal, who has 8 prior arrests, was freed on $15,000 bail.

“He came out from the car. I couldn’t explain to you how angry he was. He was screaming the whole time,” Schwartz recounted to CBS2.

“All of a sudden… boof, boof, boof, boof!”, Schwartz continued. "So I start to fight back because it’s either death or life.”

Prosecutors had said that the attack was a case of mistaken identity. Afzal had allegedly been involved in a traffic accident with another hasidic man just prior to the attack, and mistook Schwartz for the other hasidic individual.

Seeking revenge, Afzal spotted Schwartz while looking for the man involved in the accident. This version of events was disputed by the Jewish community, however, who insisted that Afzal was motivated by anti-Semitism.

“Mr. Schwartz has been characterized in some reports as having had a prior incident with his attacker, an encounter that led to “road rage” as some described it. But this is patently untrue," said New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind last week.

"Mr. Schwartz never saw his attacker before. He did not encounter him that morning prior to being attacked. Mr. Schwartz simply got up, washed, dressed, and headed for synagogue. He was a block from his home when a car screeched to a halt and someone charged at him, knocked him down and began to viciously beat him."