A driver in Brooklyn has been charged with a hit-and-run after allegedly reversing into three pedestrians in Borough Park on Saturday, then fleeing the scene. The NYPD's Hate Crime Task Force was initially investigating the incident—the victims are all reportedly Hasidim—but has since determined that the driver was merely searching for a parking space, and did not see the group, a police official said.
The incident—in which a minivan driver reverses into three people standing on the edge of an otherwise quiet street, according to security footage shared online—occurred early Saturday evening on 58th Street near Fort Hamilton Parkway. Following the collision, a 64-year-old man, a 55-year-old man, and a 6-year-old boy were all transferred to a local hospital for treatment. Officials did not have information on the victims' injuries, but Yeshiva World reports that one victim suffered broken ribs and needed several stitches.
On Monday, 27-year-old Juan Paulino, a neighborhood resident, was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, leaving the scene of a crime, and unsafe backing of a vehicle, police said. He was originally tracked down by the "Shmira" civilian patrol group, according to the Jewish Voice.
Some activists in the community are reportedly claiming that the ramming was deliberate, and calling on the NYPD to launch a larger investigation into the potential hate crime. An NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist that the "totality of evidence" suggested that it was a non-bias incident. He said that investigators based that determination on the fact that the suspect did not make any statements to the victims, and that it would have been difficult for him to identify his targets from where he was initially backing up.
We'll update as more information becomes available.