Police are on the lookout for two suspects who shot a Hasidic man in his stomach, then laughed at him as he lay bleeding on a quiet residential street in South Williamsburg early Tuesday morning.
Witnesses described a shocking scene, where two men got out of a white car parked on Driggs Avenue near S. Ninth Street at 12:15 am and shot Burech Halberstam, 25, a Satmar man, in his abdomen as he was talking on his cellphone.
“After they shot him, they were laughing,” said one witness, who declined to give his name. “This is a normal thing in New York City.”
First responders from the private Hatzolah ambulance corps picked up the victim and drove him to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, where he remains in stable condition after surgery. A police source said that officers had questioned the victim for details about his assailants, but he has only identified them as Hispanic men.
Witnesses say the men returned to the vehicle and drove down Driggs Avenue, but another witness drove after them, following them to Berry Street. The men waved a gun and the Samaritan circled back to the scene of the shooting.
Police found the alleged getaway car on Jefferson Avenue near Franklin Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant about an hour after the crime.
Police have not determined whether the shooting was a hate crime, though several witnesses suggested it was.
Community members led by United Jewish Organization President Rabbi David Niederman and Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) rallied on Tuesday afternoon to denounce the shooting.
Niederman offered a $5,000 reward and begged witnesses or people with information about the suspects to come forward to the police.
“This reward is to send a message – when you commit a crime, we will get after you and you will be caught,” said Niederman.
Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) echoed these sentiments, calling snitching a “badge of honor” and the duty of witnesses to “snitch for your community.”
“It is a matter of hours before the subjects in this case will be caught,” said James.
Niederman did not play the race card, suggesting that the shooting was not a hate crime but merely the work of two “bad apples.”
Niederman’s influence was on display at the press conference, as he quickly summoned six elected officials, including two state legislators, two councilmembers, and Borough President Markowitz, to appear with him in a back room at his Penn Street headquarters.