May 27, 2024
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Suspect Arrested in Pelham Parkway Pesach Hate Crime

On Friday, April 7 at 2:45 p.m., the second day of Passover and four hours prior to Shabbat, a young Middle Eastern man threw a piece of concrete through Rochelle Shapiro’s living room window, nearly hitting her in the head. Shapiro has been living in her Pelham Parkway area apartment on Matthews Avenue for over 60 years. Her street has several construction projects in progress, any of which appear to be a source of the concrete slab.

Shapiro had been moving a huge plant so she could set up her expandable table for Shabbat. “I had been standing there observing my daughter across the street, walking my dog, when I saw a young Middle Eastern man throw a concrete slab through my living room window,” she said. “Initially, I was stunned and covered with glass shards. I notified the 49th Precinct immediately and they arrived instantaneously. There is surveillance encompassing my buildings, so the perpetrator was clearly seen.”

Shapiro said that although she does not know the person, “I know for a fact that he lives on my block, two buildings away, because I followed him there days after the attack. As to his motives, I have displayed an Israeli flag and sticker stating, ‘Wherever We Stand, We Stand With Israel’ on my window since June of 1967. The case is being handled by the New York City Police Department Hate Crimes unit.”

Shapiro’s daughter heard the crash and immediately returned to the building. Once she saw what had happened, she ran to the building superintendent to retrieve the surveillance tapes as her mother called the police. After interviewing Shapiro and reviewing the tapes, they were able to see what had happened. The video shows a man throwing concrete. The mother and daughter were able to pick the suspected perpetrator out of a book of suspects. Among their worries was that Shapiro’s South American condor would fly out the window. However, the mother’s Shabbat preparations meant that the bird had already been returned to its cage.

The building’s super covered the window with plywood, ensuring Shapiro’s safety and security from the weather and animals. The building owners, who are Orthodox Jews from Brooklyn, were contacted about the incident after Shabbat. Shapiro is grateful for the unseasonably warm and dry weather prior to the window being replaced a few days later. Her daughter purchased a plastic film covering the window glass, preventing the glass from shattering on the inside should an incident like this happen again.

“There’s nobody left here from a thriving, beautiful, elegant Pelham Parkway. We had 17 synagogues here at one time,” Shapiro reflected. “We are down to one, as they have all merged with each other. We lost seven people to COVID in this neighborhood. There’s no replacement for the Jews that are here.” She moved into her apartment with her parents when she was 10 years old. She loves her spacious apartment and does not want to move. There is only one other apartment in her building occupied by Jews.

“I am not afraid, and these kinds of people are not going to scare me away,” Shapiso asserted, saying she plans to replace her Israeli flag with an even bigger one. She hopes other hate crime victims speak up and just “be proud of who you are.”

On Tuesday, April 25 a suspect was arrested by the New York City Police Department.

By Judy Berger

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