In the second seemingly racially-motivated attack in three days, New York City cops are searching for an African American suspect who allegedly punched a man in the face after making an anti-white remark on a city bus as it rolled through upper Manhattan Friday afternoon.
The victim of the first attack, which took place Wednesday afternoon in Manhattan’s Union Square, died Monday. Jeffrey Babbitt, 62, had been in a coma since the unprovoked assault.
According to witness accounts of the apparently unconnected Friday incident, reported by the New York Daily News, a 31-year-old Queens, NY, man was riding the M60 bus around 127th St. between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive in Harlem.
When the man, whose name has not been made public, walked to the front of the bus to approach the driver, another passenger — an African American man apparently in his mid-to-late 30s — confronted him.
The other passenger called the Queens man a “cracker.”
According to the Daily News account, the first passenger replied, “Why are you in my face?”
The suspect then attacked, pushing the man to the floor of the bus and striking him in the face. The victim suffered a broken nose and possibly fractured eye socket.
The suspect fled. Police released a surveillance photo of a man they say is the suspect, described as about 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, 35 to 40 years of age. The city’s Hate Crimes Task Force is also investigating.
The suspect in Wednesday’s attack, 40-year-old LaShawn Marten, was due in court today when it is probable the assault charges against him will be upgraded in light of Babbitt’s death.
According to published descriptions of the Union Square incident, Marten shouted, “I’m going to punch the next white man I see,” before sucker-punching Babbitt, whose head struck the pavement as he fell.
Another witness, Michael Benson, told New York’s Channel 7 News that Marten said, “'The next white person that bumps into me without saying excuse me, I’m going to knock him out.”
According to a report in the New York Times, Marten, who also used the name Martin Redrick, had a long history of arrests, including previous assaults and drug arrests. He resided in a Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services facility for the homeless and people with psychiatric ailments.
His victim, Babbitt, was described by friends who gathered to mourn him Monday as a retired train conductor who shared a Sheepshead Bay apartment with his 94-year-old mother for whom he was the sole caretaker.
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Babbitt, an avid comic book fan, often visited Union Square to shop at Forbidden Planet, a popular comic book shop in the area.