Police in New York have arrested a man accused of firing a BB gun at a Jewish father and son who were out grocery shopping, a law enforcement official told CNN.
The alleged shooter, a 25-year-old man, is charged with assault as a hate crime, endangering the welfare of a child, reckless endangerment and assault, according to the official.
The BB gun shooter was driving on a main thoroughfare on Staten Island Sunday afternoon when he spotted the 32-year-old father and his 7-year-old son shopping in front of a Kosher grocery store wearing yarmulkes, the official said.
That is when the assailant allegedly opened fire, striking the boy in the right ear and the father in the chest, the official said.
He then sped off in a Black Ford Mustang that did not have a license plate, the official said.
Paramedics arrived at the scene a short time later and treated the pair for their injuries at the scene, the official said.
In a Tuesday news conference, Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon said his office will continue working with police to bring justice to the victims.
“We want our Jewish brothers and sisters to know in this instance that we stand with them just as we do with anyone who is a victim of a hate crime for any reason whatsoever,” McMahon told reporters on Tuesday.
New York Mayor Eric Adams, speaking at the same news conference, said: “We are not going to allow hate to run our city.”
The mayor added that New York has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel and that hate crimes have been on the rise across the country.
“We need to stop what’s happening on social media, we need to stop the spreading of this hate, we need to combat it in a very real way,” Adams said.
The alleged hate crime is the latest in a string of incidents in the city.
The New York Police Department has seen an increase in overall hate crimes, led by a sharp increase in anti-Semitic incidents for the month of November. The NYPD reported 45 incidents in November, which is up from 20 crimes reported on November 2021, according to NYPD statistics.
The increase in anti-Semitic incidents comes as the NYPD, along with other federal law enforcement agencies, thwarted a potential attack on a New York area synagogue last month, arresting and arraigning two men in connection with online threats.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said investigators from the FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force and the NYPD Counterterrorism and Intelligence Bureau, in collaboration with law enforcement partners, uncovered “a developing threat to the Jewish community.”
Authorities said they seized a number of weapons from the pair, who were also in possession of a swastika arm patch, according to a statement from Manhattan’s district attorney.
New York state leads the nation in anti-Semitic incidents, with at least 416 reported in 2021, including at least 51 assaults – the highest number ever recorded by the Anti-Defamation League in New York. There were 12 assaults reported in 2020, the ADL said in an audit last month.