A group of Hasidic men who attacked an African American fashion student in Brooklyn while yelling anti-gay slurs might have been members of a neighborhood watch, says New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Taj Patterson, 22, a student at the New York City College of Technology, says he was on his way home to Fort Greene at 4 a.m. on Dec. 1, when he was jumped by a group of Hasidic men.
Patterson said they shouted things like, “Stay down, f----t.”
He was left with a broken eye socket, a torn retina, blood clotting, and cuts and bruises, officials said.
Witnesses say many of the attackers were wearing matching jackets.
“A group with some sort of uniform jacket with a logo may have been involved,” Kelly said.
He hasn’t confirmed whether the suspects are members of the Williamsburg Shomrim, the Jewish neighborhood watch known to patrol the area.
Several witnesses confirmed that the suspects had shields and similar patches.
“One of [them] tried to hit me,” said a witness, Mariano Ortiz.
Ortiz, 33, gave NYPD a photo of a license plate apparently belonging to the attackers.
“They were wearing emblems,” said another witness who wished not to be named. “One was wearing a shield on his shirt. It was definitely a police force.”
“The majority of them [were] wearing a jacket with three letters,” said MTA bus driver Evelyn Keys, who made a stop in the middle of the attack. “I know the first letter is an ‘S.’ Under those three letters there was a word that started with an ‘S.’”
The incident is currentily be investigated by the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force. No arrests have been made.