Local politicians and hundreds of parents held a rally in Bay Ridge on Wednesday in support of a father who was arrested on Sept. 30 for allegedly protecting his 13-year-old son from a violent attacker.
The attendees gathered to protest the assault charge leveled against 52-year-old Ting Duo Lei, who they say was “defending his family” from 24-year-old Hassan Saab, who showed up at Lei’s Bensonhurst home armed with a baseball bat to confront his son.
According to the Lei family, the violent incident stemmed from an altercation that occurred outside Madeline Brennan Intermediate School in Dyker Heights on the afternoon of Sept. 28. They said that their son, Brian, was with friends at the school’s basketball courts when a disagreement between Brian’s friends and another group of students, including two brothers, occurred over a game.
The family said that the brothers later returned to the basketball court with adult family members, including Saab, who allegedly chased and assaulted Brian and another student.
According to the police, Brian reported that Saab kicked him in the head, causing him to bang his head against a fence. Another 13-year-old boy also reported that Saab had punched him in the chest and neck causing pain and redness.
Saab then allegedly fled the scene in a black Sedan.
Lei alleged that two days later, on Sept. 30, Saab arrived at their Bensonhurst home with a bat, looking for Brian. Lei retrieved a shovel and broom from the house, and the scene quickly escalated into violence.
Cops arrived at the Lei house shortly after 1:30 p.m. and arrested Saab in relation to the two incidents on Sept. 28 and Sept. 30. He has been charged with assault, criminal possession of a weapon, acting in a manner injurious to a child, disorderly conduct, and harassment.
Lei told cops that Saab had struck him over the head with his weapon, causing a laceration. Paramedics transported him to Lutheran Medical Center, where he was treated for his injuries.
Lei was also charged with assault after Saab reported he had been struck with a shovel causing, bruising to his right arm. An NYPD spokesperson said the investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Rally attendees said they were galvanized to show up in support of the Lei family after video footage of the Sept. 30 incident between Lei and Saab began circulating on social media. They called for the charges against Lei to be dropped and for the students involved to be expelled.
“I was deeply disturbed by the videos and photos that circulated, depicting an incident that commenced as a school bullying episode and escalated into a horrifying assault on a 13-year-old minor,” said one parent, Yifang Chen. “This was followed by a terrifying chase that saw the assailants targeting the minor’s family in their own neighborhood.”
“Is school safe for my child anymore? Chen asked the crowd. “If not, how do we save our children when the city we call home no longer feels safe?”
In a show of solidarity with the Lei family, state Sen. Iwen Chu told rally attendees that it was clear Lei was defending his son and his family during the incident. Chu said her office is in close contact with all stakeholders in the case.
“We will continue to work with the family and stand alongside to support them to make sure we seek justice… and to make sure our children are safe, on and off school grounds,” said Chu.
Assembly Member Lester Chang suggested that all teachers and students ought to undergo mandatory anti-bullying training at the beginning of every school year, stating that “violence is never the answer.”
“We should always have a reminder for all of us that violence is never tolerated, especially by parents. I know they get angry to protect their children, but we have to withhold ourselves to violence,” said Chang. “This cannot happen in any school system. I hope that this is a lesson learned for everyone that this has to stop now.”
The Department of Education did not respond to requests for comment.