A 20-year-old Queens man has been arrested for allegedly threatening Jewish customers, including an 11-year-old boy, at a Costco on Long Island, where a rabbi captured the anti-Semitic tirade on video, according to reports.
Justin Pichizaca faces arraignment Tuesday on charges of aggravated harassment and menacing, police said.
Rabbi Avrumi Fri was shopping with his wife and son at the store on Rockaway Turnpike in North Lawrence, Nassau County, on Sunday when the incident occurred, according to Patch.
In a lengthy Facebook post, the rabbi said he was in the men’s room when the unhinged man walked out of a stall and said, “(expletive) Jew, the Nazis will finish you off!”
Fri said he followed the man and began recording his rant on his cellphone to out “this bigot while demonstrating that there is this type of bigotry, even here at ‘home’ in Five Towns.”
“To indicate that I had no desire to get physical, I kept my left hand down at my side while holding up the phone with my right hand. After a few times of my telling him to ‘say it to my face,’ he went on the rant you saw in the video,” Fri wrote.
“You can see that he threatens me with physical harm and lunged at me twice. I just moved back at each attempt, as I was not interested in a physical altercation,” he continued, adding that he showed the alarming footage to two Costco managers while his family was “shopping, blissfully unaware of what had happened.”
Fri said that as the man was leaving the store, he told another Jewish customer, “I’m going to get my gun and will come back to shoot you up.”
Meanwhile, the manager called police, followed the man to his car and wrote down his license plate number, Fri said.
A “rather pleasant police officer” who showed up said there was nothing much he could do, Fri said, even though he insisted on filing a police report because he had been threatened with physical harm during what he believed was a hate crime.
Fri claimed the cop told him, “Once you followed him out of the bathroom, you became the aggressor.”
A second officer joined them said, “What you did wasn’t so smart. Clearly this guy is mentally ill and you were provoking him,” according to Fri, who added that he later received a call from a detective who took the case and apologized for the officers’ statements.
“I strongly believe that the current political climate we live in has brought about the actions of the police today,” Fri wrote on Facebook. “A Jew being verbally attacked does not fit the narrative that the current local government, both in Nassau County and NYC, want painted.”
In a later post on Facebook, Fri gave “a big shout out and thanks to the wonderful detective who took this case on and was really the consummate professional, taking our statements and following through on the arrest and pressing charges.”
“I do not recommend that most people do what I did. If you do not have the ability to defend yourself, it’s not worth the risk. What you can do is report events like this to the police, even if it can’t lead to charges,” he wrote.
“Post information on facebook. Remain vigilant and teach the same to your children.”
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