Man who made threats on Brooklyn Heights Promenade is prime suspect in slashing
Photos taken by local weeks before attack prove valuable
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The police on Friday confirmed that a man depicted in photos taken by a Brooklyn Heights resident is their prime suspect in a shocking daytime slashing on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
The suspect had been harassing and threatening visitors to the Promenade for weeks before the attack on a 21-year-old man who was sitting on a bench in the oval at the north end of the walkway, locals told the Brooklyn Eagle.
One Heights resident, Malcolm (he asked that his full name not be used), said he called the cops after being threatened by the man on July 11, roughly two weeks before the slashing.
Malcolm took photos and a short video of the suspect while the police were questioning him. Those photos have turned out to be valuable in the ongoing investigation, which had been stymied due to the lack of surveillance cameras on the Promenade, detectives said.
An NYPD spokesperson told the Eagle that police responded to the 911 call of an assault in progress at 2:50 p.m. on Aug. 1, on the Promenade near the intersection of Columbia Heights and Orange Street in the 84th Precinct.
The suspect used a boxcutter to slash the victim multiple times on his right hand, according to the police, who determined that he had fled northbound towards Old Fulton Street. EMS transported the victim to NYU Cobble Hill on Atlantic Avenue in stable condition.
The suspect made anti-LGBTQIA+ remarks before the assault, the victim told cops. The Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating and is asking for the public’s help.
Threats had been the topic of social media
Before the boxcutter attack, the suspect’s threats had been the subject of conversations on a local Facebook group, where Malcolm posted his photos of the man who had been harassing him.
Malcolm told the Eagle that the constant threats from the man became so troubling he bought pepper spray. A friend of his who observed the man’s behavior told Malcolm he was worried that he might need to carry a baseball bat for protection.
On July 11, the man sprung up and bounded quickly toward him, Malcolm said, cursing and making anti-LGBTQIA+ remarks. “He jumped up so fast, like a runner. It was scary,” he said.
Then the man turned, rushed to his backpack and started pulling something out of it.
“I ran,” Malcolm said. From a safe distance, he called the police.
“The police questioned the man,” Malcolm said. “They said they were familiar with this guy, and he does this to everyone — curses, talks smack and calls out anti-LGBTQIA+ names — and to just ignore him and avoid the area.”
Malcolm said the response had frustrated him, but he later realized he never told the police that the suspect had run to his backpack and started to remove something, because the man had interrupted the conversation.
Malcolm did have the presence of mind, however, to take photos and a short video of the man while the police were questioning him. These photos are being shared by police as part of the investigation.
The Eagle recently reported about numerous instances of other people being threatened on the Promenade over the past several weeks, including Heights resident Thomas Tyler and his partner of 33 years.
Tyler told the Eagle that on July 31, the day before the suspect allegedly slashed the 21-year-old victim, a man had threatened him and his partner while they were sitting in the northernmost oval section of the Promenade.
“I’m going to slice you up; I’m going to rob you,” Tyler said the man threatened.
Tyler and his partner, who uses a motorized wheelchair, fled the area.
Relieved an investigation is underway
Malcolm said the constant, violent threats had traumatized him, and wonders if the police reaction would have been different if he was a woman.
“Because I am a Black man, maybe they feel they don’t have to take it seriously. I’m angry it took something like [the slashing] to happen to get a serious response,” he said.
But it also “feels so good that the investigation is finally underway. I’m glad something is happening,” he said.
Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at https://crimestoppers.nypdonline.org/, or on Twitter @NYPDTips.
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