Brooklyn Heights

Man has been threatening people on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade

NYPD warns to be aware

August 8, 2023 Mary Frost
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BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Someone has been harassing and threatening people on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and authorities want residents to be on the alert.

Heights resident Thomas Tyler was sitting with his partner of 33 years on a shady bench in the circular north end of the Promenade on the afternoon of Monday, July 31, when a man started to verbally harass him and his partner, who is in a motorized wheelchair. Both men are in their 70s.

“I noticed he was just standing there but I didn’t think anything of it,” Tyler told the Brooklyn Eagle. “[Then] he said, ‘Stop staring at me; stop looking at me.’

“I said, ‘I’m not looking at you, please stop,’” Tyler said. “He moved to the other side of us and proceeded to threaten us. He mumbled, ‘I’m going to slice you up; I’m going to rob you.’

“I said to my partner, ‘Let’s get out of here,’” Tyler said. “There was another gentleman there [in the circular area] reading a book. I said to him, ‘Did you hear what was going on over there? If I was you, I would leave.’ He got up and left.”

Tyler said it was hard to be certain of the man’s description from a distance, but he appeared to be in his 30s, very dark African American, “almost physically like Chris Rock but a little bit taller. He had a little black bag.”

Another Heights resident, who does not want her name used, told the Eagle that about a month ago she also noticed a threatening person on the Promenade in the circular section at the north end.

“I walk the Promenade every day, and would see a man sitting on those benches, and sometimes he could be heard shouting or starting to get aggressive.” She said she didn’t get close enough to get a good description of the man. “I also know that there is more than one homeless person with mental health issues seen in that area,” she added.

This circular area at the northern end of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade has been the site of numerous instances of harassment and threats against people sitting here. In one incident, a man was slashed by an unknown individual. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

Police are still investigating the Aug. 1 brutal slashing of a 22-year-old man in the same circular area of the Promenade. The suspect, who has not been identified, is still on the loose.

After reading about this attack in the Eagle, another reader told this paper he was threatened in the same location in the same way in June.

“I was threatened over there in a very similar manner (anti-gay slurs) and in the same section (very end with globe and benches) as the article refers to, in the middle of June. I just kept my distance and walked away quickly,” the reader said. “The man threatening me was middle aged, Black, average height.”

“There has been a dramatic increase in vagrants in the area that seem to be using hard drugs and are not in touch with reality,” Jennifer, an Orange Street resident, said. “I’ve called 311 and the local precinct numerous times to express concern and ask for increased patrols. My calls have gone unanswered and men who appear to have mental health issues are still living on the Promenade and in [Brooklyn Bridge Park].”

In yet another description of a threatening person at the north end of the Promenade, a Heights resident wrote in a private Facebook group, “There is a really vicious, violent, homophobic homeless man that has been sleeping on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for a few weeks. And he’s terrorizing the neighbors. This man has not only started to target me, but I can’t even enjoy my walks anymore because he recognizes me before I even see him and he starts to go towards me and intimidate me like he’s about to hurt me, while threatening me and yelling homophobic profanities. I want it to stop and he needs to get out of here because this is no way to live. Has anyone seen this man, too?”

The resident supplied a photo of the allegedly threatening individual, which a detective with NYPD encouraged this paper to share — while emphasizing that he was not necessarily a suspect in any physical attacks.

“More as an FYI that there is an individual harassing people on the Promenade and threatening physical injuries, and that local residents should be aware,” the detective said.

What can be done?

Tyler said he was a teacher for 37 years and also worked at Maimonides Medical Center in the mental health field. His partner was a vice president at Maimonides for more than 30 years. (Tyler is also known as a long-time director of theatrical productions at The Heights Players — a beloved local theater in the Willowtown enclave of the Heights.)

“Both my partner and I have long career backgrounds in both education and mental health and truly understand the needs of affected people. However, when it becomes a threat to individuals minding their own business, something must be done,” he said.

He noted that police used to patrol the Promenade more frequently than they seem to do now. “For a while police on scooters used to [patrol] the Promenade. I don’t understand why that can’t be done now.”

He also suggested erecting a visitor information booth near the Promenade, similar to what is done in numerous popular tourist areas around the world.

“In Florence, Italy, the visitor center is set up by the police department — and they would also take reservations and recommend restaurants,” he said. “At least there’s someplace to go.”

People are urged to be alert to their surroundings, to get to a place of safety if threatened, and to call 911 when they are safe.

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