JTA — A rabbi who was harassed and threatened with physical violence at a suburban New York Costco recorded the encounter, leading to the arrest of the aggressor.
In a Facebook post late Sunday, Rabbi Avrum Fri wrote that the man said to him in the restroom of the store in Lawrence, Long Island, “[expletive] Jew, the Nazis will finish you off.”
Fri said he followed the man out of the bathroom and told him to make the comment to his face while the rabbi was recording with his cellphone.
The man — identified as Justin Pichizaca, 20, of Queens — twice made a move toward Fri to hit him and said “Record all you want because a Nazi is going to f***ing kill you.”
Pichizaca also threatened another Jewish customer, saying “I’m going out to get my gun and will come back to shoot you up.”
HATE IS ALIVE IN NY: This happened in the @Costco in Lawrence, NY when a Jewish man was verbally assaulted by a neo-Nazi threatening to pull out a gun, attack him. If you know this man, please contact the Nassau County Police Department. pic.twitter.com/NgiPTxQ4WH
— NYC Scanner (@NYScanner) December 8, 2019
Fri said no one interceded during the extended rant.
The police officer who responded to Fri’s call said there was no case since once Fri followed Pichizaca out of the bathroom, he “became the aggressor.” A second officer said his actions were not smart since Pichizaca “clearly” is mentally ill.
On Monday, Fri was called to the police station, where the officers apologized. Pichizaca was arrested later that day and will appear in court on Tuesday.
Facebook removed the cellphone video for violating community standards.
“I do not recommend that most people do what I did,” Fri wrote in a second Facebook post on Monday night. “If you do not have the ability to defend yourself, it’s not worth the risk. What you can do is report events like this to the police, even if it can’t lead to charges. Post information on Facebook. Remain vigilant and teach the same to your children.”