(December 26, 2019 / JNS) A quiet national holiday was shattered with midday reports spreading on social media of a man attacking Jews at a local kosher eatery.
Shortly before noon on Dec. 25, the Teaneck, N.J., police department received a call reporting an altercation inside of Sammy’s Bagels at 1439 Queen Anne Road, an area surrounded on all sides by kosher and Jewish-owned stores. Sammy’s is a combination of three store fronts; it has pizza and bagel counters, with a made-to-order salad bar, and an organic coffee and beverage bar between the two.
Because of its variety of offerings, it is busy from early morning until evening, and, at that moment, was full of patrons grabbing a quick lunch or a takeout pizza.
According to a release by Township Manager Dean Kazinci and Police Chief Glenn O’Reilly: “The preliminary investigation revealed that this person entered the store and confronted two patrons. He engaged in a verbal dispute with the first patron by using an expletive while telling him to take off his hat. He confronted a second patron inside the store using the same language. This second confrontation turned into a shoving match at which time the patron received a scratch to his face. When the suspect exited the store, he made his way to Palisade Avenue where he confronted a third individual. Again, he made the same comment.”
A Yeshiva World News report indicated that the man shouted something like, “the Jews killed my god.” Other witnesses reported that the assailant said, “Take off your effing hat,” using the expletive. Additional eyewitness reports were still forthcoming at press time.
Three people were treated on the scene for facial trauma. All were reportedly in good condition.
The suspect fled on foot. A patrol supervisor located the suspect near 1600 Palisade Avenue and recognized him from past encounters. The suspect was reportedly taken to a local hospital for evaluation.
Teaneck police consulted with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office; the attack is apparently not be treated as a bias incident.
Deputy Mayor Elie Katz of Teaneck expressed concern about this decision.
“It is really ridiculous already that in the state of New Jersey, the bias crime laws are either so weak or convoluted that the bar seems to be impossible to reach. Not sure what it will take for our state legislators to address this,” he said. ”I am sure they are all working very hard, but as bias incidents continue to rise in the U.S., it would seem that one of the ways to combat them would be to first call them for what they are and then prosecute accordingly.”
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