Assault committed by black man screaming ‘..I want to kill the Jew..’
by, Joe Stepansky, Erik Badia, Rocco Parascandola, Thomas Tracy & Corky Siemaszko | New York Daily News
NYPD anti-terror officers swarmed Chabad-Lubavitch in Crown Heights after Israeli student Levi Rosenblat, 22, was stabbed during prayer early Tuesday. Police fatally shot 49-year-old Calvin Peters after a tense confrontation. Rosenblat’s condition was critical with bleeding on the brain, police and sources said.
Video courtesy of: New York Daily News
A deranged man screaming “I want to kill the Jew!” stabbed a 22-year-old yeshiva student in the face at the Lubavitcher headquarters in Brooklyn before he was shot dead by police early Tuesday.
Cops repeatedly ordered 49-year-old Calvin Peters to put down the 9-inch blade and he initially complied, placing it on a table, police said.
But Peters, who according to his family lawyer was bipolar, grabbed it again and charged at the officers before he was shot in the stomach by Officer Roberto Pagan, the sources said.
“He was going towards the officer,” a 19-year-old Hasidic witness said. “His eyes were bulging, he must have been on drugs.”
In startling video first posted by the Israeli news site 0404, an officer identified by sources as Timothy Donohue is heard yelling at Peters to put down the weapon.
“Drop the f—–g knife,” he can be heard yelling repeatedly.
Then a single shot rang out, hitting Peters and ending the outrage at Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights.
Meanwhile, knife attack victim Levi Rosenblat was rushed to trauma unit at Kings County Hospital where he was in critical condition with bleeding on the brain, police and sources said.
“Earlier today we all felt pretty good that he was stable, but now it seems they found something they didn’t know this morning and he’s in pretty serious shape,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn).
Rosenblat’s mother was en route from Israel, sources said. She lives south of Jerusalem in the Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit, located in the West Bank.
“He may have some permanent damage,” said one source, who reported that Rosenblat had also been stabbed at least once in the neck.
The Brooklyn attack immediately drew comparisons to the slaughter at an Orthodox-Jewish synagogue in Jerusalem last month by a pair of meat cleaver-wielding Palestinians that left four rabbis dead.
Rabbi Motti Seligson, a Lubavitcher spokesman, said multiple witnesses heard Peters screaming about killing Jews. “He was heard saying, ‘Kill the Jews,’ or something to that effect,” Seligson said.
But Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said this appeared to be the work of a troubled man with a long rap sheet — not a terrorist plot.
“We are very, very confident it’s not a terrorist-related act at this stage,” Bratton said. “There’s no indication that the subject … had any affiliation with any terrorist organization.”
Peters was emotionally disturbed and “has a history of acting out in other places,” added John Miller, the NYPD’s anti-terrorism czar.
But in light of the attack, and with Israel in turmoil and Chanukah on the horizon, the NYPD is ramping up security at synagogues and other Jewish institutions across the city, Miller said.
“You will see some enhanced coverage in terms of police presence at these locations,” Miller said.
Mayor de Blasio gave kudos to “the police officers who answered the call to this incident.”
“They responded quickly to a tense and dangerous situation, and while any loss of life is tragic, we are fortunate that, thanks to the actions of our officers early this morning, more people were not injured or worse,” the mayor said.
The deadly drama erupted at about 1:40 a.m. when Peters burst into the building and — without warning — jammed the knife into Rosenblat’s head, police and witnesses said.
“I went over to the floor, I saw the teenager on the floor, his hair was bloody,” one witness said. “He was saying, ‘Save me.’”
The Hasidic teenager said he too rushed to Rosenblat’s aid when he heard the young man’s screams.
“The whole side of his face is all stabbed up and is bloody and he was screaming for help,” the teenager said. “I told him to come down, I went outside with him and then these other guys started taking care of him.”
When he went back inside, the teen said he saw Peters with the knife in his hand.
Donohue, who is based at the center, was the first to confront Peters, sources said. He was quickly joined by two other cops, both with their guns drawn.
“The police were screaming, ‘Put down the knife, put down the knife’,” the teen said. “The guy, he looks at the police he says, ‘Are you cool?’ They said, ‘Put down the knife!’”
The video shows Peters putting down the knife and walking several feet away while one of the officers holstered his gun and turned his head, apparently in response to something another cop said.
But that officer immediately pulled his gun out again when Peters made a beeline for the knife.
Video courtesy of: New York Daily News
“The cops told him to put down his knife, he wouldn’t put it down, he started going towards the cops and the cops shot him,” the Hasidic teenage witness said.
Peters looked out of it, he said.
“He was calm, he looked like maybe he was on heavy drugs, he was walking kind of from side to side,” the witness said.
A second video posted by 0404 shows the aftermath — Peters lying on the ground, conscious and moaning — as cops put him in handcuffs. He was rushed to Kings County, where he died at 3:15 a.m.
Peters, who lived in Valley Stream, L.I., has a rap sheet stretching back on 1982 with 19 arrests in New York and Nassau County, sources said. His most recent arrest was in 2005, when he was busted for violating an order of protections.
It was not clear who filed the order, but most of Peters’ arrests were for drug possession, as well as arson and criminal possession of stolen property, the sources said.
Jeffrey St. Clair, an attorney for Peters’ wife, Gayle, said the slain suspect had mental problems and “did have some history of bipolar.” But he was also a “devoted father” of two young boys.
“He was always seen with his two boys,” St. Clair said. “If you talk to any of his neighbors, I’m sure they’ll tell you the same thing. The family is quite frankly shocked and disappointed at what happened. Our prayers go out to the person that was injured.”
Neighbor Lorraine McCartney, 80, said she too was stunned and said she had no inkling that Peters was mentally ill or had a criminal past. She said he was a stay-at-home dad who headed “a model family.”
“I’m just completely shocked,” she said.
While police aren’t saying what caused Peters to snap, sources said he left home Monday for a dental appointment at 11 a.m. but didn’t show up.
Around 5:20 p.m., Peters turned about at the bustling Hasidic center in Brooklyn where he spoke to several people and left without incident.
Peters returned at 12:05 a.m. and asked, “Do you have any books in English?”
Told no, Peters was escorted out, the sources said.
Peters returned 91 minutes later at 1:36 a.m. — and unleashed hell, the sources said.
A 25-year-old Israeli, who asked not to be identified, said he saw Peters casing the building an hour before the attack.
“He was looking around, he asked for a book,” the witness said. “He looked not so much crazy, but different.”
When the man returned, he was armed with a knife in his hand and there was anger in his voice as he screamed, “I will kill the Jew! I want to kill the Jew!”
“I never thought it would happen in New York,” he told The News. “These things don’t need to happen.”
Rosenblat arrived in Brooklyn two weeks ago to study at the Chabad headquarters, friends said.
“He’s a nice guy, a good guy,” said Menzy Myhiol, 20, a student from Canada. “He was a regular student just doing his studies.”
Peters is the 180th person killed during a confrontation with on-duty NYPD officers since the death of Amadou Diallo in 1999, according to a study conducted by the Daily News.