Archive for the tag 'violence'

Source: What What/Flickr

BETWEEN THE LINES: There has been a succession of media reports over the last few weeks about pedestrians being sucker-punched by a single attacker or one among a group of passing youngsters. The series of episodes reported in New York and several other states are being carelessly referred to as “the knockout game.”

How the media can collectively — and blithely — keep referring to these sporadic attacks as “the knockout game” is absurd. Whether or not the youths responsible and law enforcement apply that reference is one thing, but for the media to repeatedly use the trendy vernacular is appalling and unnecessary, as it subtly glorifies that sort of violence.

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Source: ah zut/Flickr

The man believed to be behind the Friday morning attack of a Jewish man on the Midwood – Kensington border was not charged with a hate crime, despite calls from local elected officials who say that perpatrators of the so-called “knockout game” are specifically targeting Jewish victims.

The 2:00 a.m. attack on 18th Avenue and East 5th Street saw four men arrested, but Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ office only filed charges against Amrit Marajh, who allegedly took the swing. He has been charged with misdemeanor assault, menacing and harassment charges, and has posted $750 bail. Police initially arrested him for a hate crime, a charge the district attorney did not press.

The assault is believed to be the latest incident of the violent “knockout game,” in which thugs take down unsuspecting passersby with a sucker punch before running off. The victim in this case was a 24-year-old Orthodox Jewish man.

Although it appears to be a national phenomenon, local leaders say the Brooklyn version has taken on an ugly racial edge, with the victims being Orthodox Jews living in Crown Heights, Midwood and Kensington.

CBS News reports:

One of the suspects, identified as Amrit Marajh, 28, was charged with aggravated assault as a hate crime, among other counts.

The other three suspects were released without charges.

… “I came across a group of people who were walking towards me, and I was able to hear them speaking loudly about this knockout game,” he said.

Kelly also told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin, “Just prior to it, (the assailants) were talking about the knockout game.”

The victim told investigators he heard one of the attackers say, “I’ll do it to this guy,” right before he was surrounded and punched, sources told CBS 2.

Marajh, through his lawyer, claims that the incident had nothing to do with the knockout game.

The Daily News reports:

Amrit Marajh, 28, had just left a bar on McDonald Ave. on Friday with four friends and was talking about boxing when the knockout game came up, police sources said.

“You can’t do that,” one member of the group said as they came upon Shmuel Perl, 24, according to a source.

Marajh allegedly said, “Yes I can, I’ll do it to this guy right now!” before punching Perl in the face, leaving him bruised.

Perl was not knocked out. According to news reports, all four appeared  intoxicated when they were arrested.

Authorities across the country have begun to question if the game even exists, or if the media is simply connecting a number of random acts that can occur on any given day.

The New York Times reports:

Yet police officials in several cities where such attacks have been reported said that the “game” amounted to little more than an urban myth, and that the attacks in question might be nothing more than the sort of random assaults that have always occurred.

And in New York City, police officials are struggling to determine whether they should advise the public to take precautions against the Knockout Game — or whether in fact it existed.

“We’re trying to determine whether or not this is a real phenomenon,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said on Friday. “I mean, yes, something like this can happen. But we would like to have people come forward and give us any information they have.”

Still, a diverse set of local elected have come forward to denounce the attacks. As we’ve already reported, Public Advocate-elect Letitia James, Councilman-elect Chaim Deutsch and Councilman David Greenfield have condemned the attacks, as has Assemblyman Dov Hikind. Later today, Congressmembers Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette Clarke, District Attorney-elect Ken Thompson, and Borough President-elect Eric Adams will hold a press conference doing the same.

Reverend Al Sharpton is also urging his supporters to speak out against the attacks, and is organizing a media campaign.

“If someone was running around talking about knocking out blacks, we would not be silent,” Sharpton said, according to CBS. “We cannot be silent.”

Sharpton aims to kick off a celebrity-driven public service announcement campaign to denounce the attacks.

kings-plaza

Eleven people turned out at a rally in front of Kings Plaza on Saturday to protest what they’re calling “Justice Reversed,” following the news that hate charges were dropped in a recent case in which black teens allegedly assaulted a white couple while shouting racial epithets.

It was a subdued protest that drew far fewer participants than anticipated, with more than 100 people saying they would attend the event on Facebook, yet less than a dozen showed. The group stood by the Flatbush Avenue entrance, guarded by nearly as many police as there were protesters, and commiserated about the perceived injustice and the safety of the community.

“I missed the [assault] by five minutes. I was walking home with my daughter and it could have happened to anyone,” said Linda Baker, the Mill Basin native who organized the rally. “It’s a hate crime. They screamed racial slurs and it goes both ways. In this neighborhood and in society it just seems to be only recognized when hate is against a minority and hate is not recognized against the white race. It’s ridiculous already.”

The protesters quietly and peacefully handed out fliers to passersby of all backgrounds about the attack, declaring in big, bold font “HATE CRIMES HAVE NO COLOR!!!!”

The group took issue with the news the week before that a grand jury decided to drop hate crime charges against Kashawn Kirton, 18, and Daehrell Finch, 17, two suspects that police arrested in connection with an assault of a couple near Kings Plaza on October 14 that authorites believed was racially motivated.

Kirton and Finch, along with two minors, were arrested shortly after the attack, in which Ronald Russo and his wife, Alanna, were attacked by a large group of black teenagers. The couple, both white, were reportedly subjected to racial epithets, with the suspects allegedly yelling “Get those crackers!” and “Get that white whore!”

The incident happened as the victims, stopped at the intersection of Avenue U and East 58th Street in their car. The group of African-American teenagers was crossing the street against the light, and Russo honked his horn. After one of the teens kicked the car Russo got out to assess the damage, and that was when he and his wife were attacked.

Although frustrated by the dropped charges, Baker and others at the event agreed that the details of the case were unclear, and that the grand jury may have had good reason to drop the charges. But they said they were bothered more by the lack of media coverage and outrage from elected officials about similar cases, and said it was indicative of what they believe is an unfair application of bias charges.

“We don’t know the whole story. Maybe they dropped the case because the guy got out of the car and started screaming racial epithets. And if he did then all bets are off as far as I’m concerned,” said John Lore, a Marine Park resident. “I’m very disappointed towards the lack of coverage. This Barney’s thing,” he said, referring to the tabloid frenzy over alleged discrimination at Barney’s and Macy’s retail outlets, “as far as I’m concerned, nothing’s been proved, everything’s an investigation. But what happened with these two people was real, that was very real, and it was deeply personal.”

“If the roles were reversed I’m quite sure this would’ve made headlines and it would have been on the cover of the Daily News. That Barney’s situation is minuscule compared to this,” Lore said.

Many at the rally said they had hoped elected officials would attend. Assemblyman Alan Maisel walked past the protest and talked to police officers, but did not stop to speak with protestors. Sheepshead Bites caught up with him, and he said he was unaware of the group, noting that he was there to attend a rally for Bill de Blasio that occurred earlier in the day. He was not recognized by the protesters.

Asked about the case, Maisel expressed confusion at its cause, or why protesters wanted to hear from elected officials.

“I didn’t bring the case to the grand jury. I didn’t see the evidence. I recommended they try to reach out to the district attorney,” Maisel said. “But what the police say is that the individuals that were attacked did not report any bias when they were questioned initially.”

He added: “I’m not sure what they’re protesting against. Certainly, I don’t know why they’re protesting here. They should protest on Joreleman Street or Adams Street,” where the courthouse and district attorney’s offices are located.

The victims in the case, Ronald and Alanna Russo, were invited to the protest. Baker said she was told through others that they did not want any publicity in connection to the case.

Calls to the district attorney’s office had not been returned as of this writing.

Nikolia Rakossi

Nikolai Rakossi

Larisa and Tatyana Prikhodko.

Russian authorities will not be deporting Nikolai Rakossi to the Unites States to stand trial for the 2011 slayings of Larisa Prikhodko and her mother, Tatyana, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn district attorney confirmed to Sheepshead Bites.

Still, Rakossi will face trial in Russia, using evidence provided by the district attorney’s office.

“Nikolai Rakossi was found in Russia.  Based on evidence from our office and the NYPD, he is being detained for questioning for the double homicide,” a spokesperson for District Attorney Charles Hynes said.

The suspect, believed to have stabbed the mother and daughter to death in their apartment at 2299 East 13th Street, before fleeing back to his mother country, was recently detained by Russian authorities after more than two years on the lam. Rakossi is a Russian citizen, and Russian law forbids citizens from being extradited.

“Because Rakossi is a Russian citizen, Russia has jurisdiction over the case and he will not be extradited,” the spokesperson said. “[The district attorney] will continue to work very closely with Russian authorities to see that he is brought to justice.”

Rakossi denies involvement in the death of the Prikhodkos, but Russian authorities have decided to keep him behind bars until he stands trial.

The New York Post reports:

He denied the accusation but was ordered to be held in custody by judge Alexandra Bezdetnova in Sovietski Court, Tula.

A source said: “He was on the run for two and a half years, and there was a risk he could flee again to Ukraine.”

Court spokeswoman Olga Dyachuk: “The court has taken into attention that Rakossi is accused of a grave crime which can result in him being jailed for 20 years, or for life, and concluded that there is every reason to believe that the charged person might try and escape investigation.

“The court therefore satisfied the investigator’s petition and Rakossi will spend two months in Tula detention center number 1.”

kirton

Kirton

The Daily News is reporting that a grand jury decided to drop the hate crime charges raised against Kashawn Kirton, 18, and Daehrell Finch, 17, two suspects that police arrested in connection with an assault of a couple near Kings Plaza on October 14 that authorites believed was racially motivated.

Kirton and Finch, along with two minors, were arrested shortly after the attack, in which Ronald Russo and his wife, Alanna, were attacked by a large group of black teenagers. The couple, both white, were reportedly subjected to racial epithets, with the suspects allegedly yelling “Get those crackers!” and “Get that white whore!”

The incident happened as the victims, stopped at the intersection of Avenue U and East 58th Street in their car. The group of African-American teenagers was crossing the street against the light, and Russo honked his horn. After one of the teens kicked the car Russo got out to assess the damage, and that was when he and his wife were attacked.

Kirton claims that he was wrongly arrested, and not associated with the other teenagers. He said he was shopping at Lowe’s at the time, and was nabbed by police because he matched the description.

Nikolia Rakossi

Nikolai Rakossi

Nikolai Rakossi, the man believed to have brutally stabbed to death a mother and daughter in their East 13th Street apartment before fleeing to Russia, has been apprehended by Russian authorities after more than two years on the lam.

Larisa and Tatyana Prikhodko.

RIA Novosti, a government operated Russian news agency based in Moscow, is reporting that Russian police took Rakossi into custody yesterday. Rakossi is identified as a “resident of Novomoskovsk, a town in the Tula province, south of Moscow.” The report indicates that Russian authorities have been on the hunt for Rakossi since U.S. investigators turned over materials to Russian prosecutors after it was believed that Rakossi fled back to his native country.

Rakossi, a handyman living legally in the U.S.,  is the primary suspect in the stabbing deaths of 27-year-old Larisa Prikhodko and her mother, Tatyana Prikhodko, 56, who was also his girlfriend.

Their bodies were discovered with multiple stab wounds to the face and torso late at night on April 17, 2011, in their apartment at 2299 East 13th Street, off of Gravesend Neck Road. Police were following up on a report that Larisa had gone missing after she didn’t show to pick up her 2-year-old son from her father’s home. The father, Felix Zeltser, filed the report at the 61st Precinct, and police stumbled across the double homicide when they visited her apartment.

2299 East 13th Street, the building where the murders took place (Photo by Paypaul)

Larisa worked in the maternity ward at Mount Sinai Medical Center, and her mother was a nurse at Brookdale University Hospital in Brooklyn. The 2-year-old son remains in Zeltser’s custody.

As authorities pieced together the crime scene, they came to believe that Rakossi, the mother’s boyfriend, was the murderer, and soon discovered that he had boarded a flight back to Russia from John F. Kennedy airport.

Rakossi reportedly called his sister, Lydia, from the Brooklyn apartment the day the bodies were found, and the evening of which he boarded the flight.

“He was in tears,” Lydia, who lives in Russia, said of the phone call. ”He told me: ‘Please don’t keep any offense in your heart about me. Forgive me. You will never see me again.’”

Lydia believed he would commit suicide.

”Knowing him, I don’t think he would be able to live with himself and carry the burden of having killed the person he loved more than himself, and her daughter,” she told reporters after the call.

The NYPD began working with the U.S. State Department and Russian officials to apprehend Rakossi, although investigators at the time seemed skeptical of success.

Family and friends of the victims operate a Facebook page in their memory.

Beyond the report from the Russian state media agency, we have not yet been able to confirm the arrest. It is also not yet clear if Rakossi will be prosecuted in Russia or the United States. We have contacted the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office and the NYPD for more information.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A Mill Basin couple was yanked from their car near Kings Plaza last week, and beaten by a gang of 10 teenagers allegedly shouting racial slurs.

The incident happened as the victims, Ronald and Alanna Russo, stopped at the intersection of Avenue U and East 58th Street at approximately 7:00 p.m. on Monday. The group of African-American teenagers was crossing the street against the light, and Russo honked his horn. That drew the teenager’s attentions, and at least one of the teens kicked the car.

According to a criminal complaint first reported on by the Daily News, Russo got out of the car to survey the damage.

Daily News reports what happened next:

Ronald Russo was dragged to the ground. Then he was punched and kicked in the head. He felt more blows all over his body, investigators said. He suffered a fractured nose, a broken septum, a blood clot and abrasions to his shoulder. He was treated and released from Beth Israel Medical Center.

In the midst of the attack, there was a steady chorus of epithets. “White motherf—–!” screamed the attackers, who ranged in age from 12 to 18.

The paper reports that court documents claim the youths also shouted, “Get those crackers!” and “Get that white whore!”

Alanna Russo, 30, was calling 911 when the 12-year-old girl pulled the woman’s hair and threw her to the ground. The victim’s head slammed into the concrete. She suffered a black eye, bleeding and difficulty breathing, prosecutors said, but she refused medical attention.

Her husband’s iPhone was stolen during the melee, according to cops.

Cops have arrested four teens suspected of being involved in the attack, and are still searching for the remaining suspects.

Jeffrey Babbitt in a recent photo taken by neighbor Robert Pizzimenti, via Newsday.

Jeffrey Babbitt in a recent photo taken by neighbor Robert Pizzimenti, via Newsday.

Sheepshead Bay resident Jeffrey Babbitt was the victim of an alleged hate crime last week when he was assaulted by an enraged man, leaving him brain dead. CBS News reported that the perpetrator of the horrific act attacked two others before surrendering to the police.

Babbitt, 62, is a retired train conductor living with his 94-year-old mother, Lucille, in Sheepshead Bay. CBS described the scene when the assailant, identified as 31-year-old Lashawn Marten, began his attack:

Babbitt was minding his own business as he walked through the crowd near the chess boards in Union Square when a man made a hateful announcement and began his rampage, witnesses said.

“He said ‘the next white person who walks by I’m going to [expletive],’” one woman said. “His fist went in and the man’s head bobbed and he hit the ground and you could hear his skull hitting the ground.”

The man continued his rampage before demanding to see police officers.

“He stood there and hit two more people and asked for the police to come,” Michael Benson said.

Stunned witnesses counted a total of three people attacked. The suspect, Lashawn Marten, 31, remained at the scene until police arrived…

Witnesses said they were amazed at the brazen, public nature of the assault.

“This is such a crowded area. You’d expect it in a back alley, but there are so many people here. That’s the strange part,” Garrett Browning said.

A report by Gothamist described Marten’s violent history as well as his unstable constitution which led to a tense confrontation with the judge setting his bail:

Police say Marten has a prior conviction for assault in NY, and the he has numerous other prior arrests, mostly out of state. When he was arraigned Thursday night, DNAInfo report he mocked the judge and asked that his bail be set at one penny—in response, the judge set bail at $1 million.

While the other victims suffered relatively minor injuries, Babbitt was taken to Bellevue Hospital, suffering from a coma. Doctors have declared him brain dead leaving friends of Babbitt heartbroken and distraught.

“I don’t believe that. I don’t know why that happened. He is very nice,” friend Igor Sapozhnikov told CBS.

Correction (9:34 a.m.):  A previous version of this post stated that Babbitt’s mother was named Hedda and that she was 92-years-old. More recent reports have stated that her name is Lucille and that she is 94-years-old. We have changed the post to reflect this information.

A photo from the scene the morning after the attack. (Source: NYDailyNews.com)

The Marine Park man accused of attempting to kill rowdy teenagers hanging out in front of his house last year will face a new trial after a judge called a mistrial when jurors hit a deadlock.

Thomas Dunikowski made headlines in June 2011, when he allegedly opened fire on a group of teens who refused to leave his Stuart Street stoop. Dunikowski, who has an arrest record for domestic incidents, allegedly grabbed his semi-automatic hunting rifle and perched himself at his second floor window, firing down on the teens. He struck two of them, and a fragment hit a resident. None were seriously injured, though all three were hospitalized. According to the New York Post at the time, the kids had been roaming the streets around midnight, knocking over trash cans and vandalizing cars before Dunikowski confronted them.

Dunikowski was initially charged with assault, intent to cause serious injury with a weapon, unlawful use of a loaded firearm, reckless endangerment and resisting arrest.

After the jury deadlocked last month, the judge called a mistrial, and pre-trial hearings began this week, according to a report in the print edition of the Bay News that does not appear online.

Dunikowski will face a new trial on all charges, including attempted murder – which has his attorney, Jay Schwitzman, outraged. According to Schwitzman, the jury had voted unanimously to acquit his client of the attempted murder charge, based on a claim of self-defense, before they failed to reach an agreement on the lesser charges.

Schwitzman added that the judge declared a mistrial before the jury could deliver their verdict on the attempted murder charge in open court, allowing the District Attorney to prosecute the charge again. The paper could not verify Schwitzman’s claims of a unanimous decision.

Dunikowski’s defense against the murder charge was based on a claim that it was self-defense, and that he and his Stuart Street neighbors feared for their lives. They offered panicked calls to 911 from Dunikowski and his neighbors as evidence.

“The people of Stuart Street wre scared for their lives,” Schwitzman told the paper. “These teens were notjust kicking cars and turning over trash cans – they were trashing everything they could find and would not stop, even when the police were being summoned. The teens were out there to harm Mr. Dunokowski and the 911 calls that were made back that up.”

Yoseph Robinson, Source: haaretz.com via facebook

Yoseph Robinson, Source: haaretz.com via facebook

Yoseph Robinson, the fallen Jamaican hip-hop artist turned Orthodox Jew, will be honored with a street conaming at the intersection of Avenue J and Nostrand Avenue. According to a press release issued by Councilman Jumaane Williams, the legislation to honor Robinson was passed unanimously by the City Council and signed into law by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

We’ve previously reported on Williams’s effort to honor Robinson, who was murdered on August 19, 2010, while working as a liquor store clerk in Midwood. As a teenager, Robinson was an aspiring hip-hop artist caught up in gang related activity like drug dealing. Looking to change his life, he converted to Orthodox Judaism at age 23. Robinson was murdered at MB Vineyards located at 2388 Nostrand Avenue while trying to protect his girlfriend from armed robber Eion Klass.

The Robinson legislation was passed alongside a bill to honor murdered teenager Christopher Rose, who was stabbed to death while being robbed. Rose is given the sad distinction as being the first person killed for their iPod. Williams recognized both Robinson and Rose at a press conference at City Hall.

“The legacies of Christopher Rose and Yoseph Robinson will live on in this community through these street co-namings,” said Council Member Williams. “Both of these individuals have had lasting impacts, and the fact that their names will be forever attached with our streets ensures that future New Yorkers will share in their history. I look forward to joining Yoseph and Christopher’s families and friends, along with the rest of our community, when we unveil their signs and celebrate their stories.”

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