Brooklyn paintball attacks probed as possible hate crimes

New York police suspect three assaults on Jews could be anti-Semitic

Illustrative image of Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, New York. (Serge Attal/Flash90)
Illustrative image of Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, New York. (Serge Attal/Flash90)

New York Police Department officials were investigating three recent paintball attacks on Jews in Brooklyn as possible hate crimes.

An unknown assailant attacked two boys, aged 13 and 16, and their grandfather, Abraham Franczoz, 65, with a paintball gun as they were walking home from their synagogue on Friday night. The incident took place on Morton Street near Juliana Place in Williamsburg, where blue and pink paint from the attack could still be seen on the sidewalk. Police said the 16-year-old boy was struck in the arm and the 13-year-old in the ankle.

“My grandchildren were very afraid because they thought it was a bullet,” Franczoz told Ilana Gold of CBS2. “We felt some shoulder shots.” The boys ran away unharmed.

“We’re afraid,” said Franczoz, whose family reported the attacks on Saturday night after the Jewish Sabbath had ended. “We don’t have no weapons. We don’t fight back.”

The attack last Friday joins two others that took place on March 22. Police said that in one, a 37-year-old man was shot in the face with a paintball at about 7:30 P.M. while on his way to a synagogue on Kent Avenue at Hewes Street.

The other attack targeted a teenage boy walking home from a synagogue. Police have linked the attacks, but have no description of the attacker and have not found a suspect.

“This is not a joke,” said Rabbi Moshe Indig, a local community leader. “This is not a game. And we’ll take it very serious. The community’s going to be very serious about it, and the Police Department will be very serious about it, as they told me they will make sure to catch the guys and do whatever’s necessary to stop it.”

In the meantime, neighborhood residents feel uneasy about going outside, particularly at night. “I don’t feel safe at all right now,” Franczoz said. “I feel that the neighborhood is not being protected. If it happened once, I would understand. Twice is too much.”

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