Tuesday, August 13, 2013
For a few frantic seconds, Josef Margaretten thought he was going to die when he collapsed Wednesday from a drive-by shooting, covered in a dark liquid he thought was blood.
The 35-year-old Hasidic resident of Spring Valley had visions of his wife and five children, and wondered when he might take his last breath.
"I thought that's it, my life's over," he told The Journal News on Monday. "I thought this was the last minute of my life."
Pausing slightly, he added, "I didn't know anything about a paintball gun."
The three young people who fled in the car were later arrested for what turned out to be a paintball attack.
They were charged with several felonies, including assault as a hate crime. Margaretten said he heard one of them shout, "(expletive) Jews!"
"I'm very angry about it," he said. "I didn't do anything to anyone."
But he said his only concern Wednesday night was for survival after the car pulled up and someone pointed a gun at him. At the time, Margaretten was standing outside a friend's house on Rita Avenue, chatting with his buddy Shlomo Pinkasovits about a meeting that just took place.
"I saw the car pull up next to us, like two feet away, and the gun sticking out the window," he recalled. "Then I heard the shots. 'Pop! Pop!' It sounded like a real gun. Five shots. As they were popping, someone was screaming something about Jews. I didn't concentrate on that because I was busy with the shots."
The final shot to his abdomen knocked him to the ground, Margaretten said.
While lying on the pavement, he felt pain and a burning sensation.
"My hand was so dark, I thought it was blood," he said. "I was screaming for my friend, 'Help me, I'm shot!' "
Then someone shined a flashlight on him.
"I then realized it was only paint, not blood," he said.
Margaretten, who was treated in the hospital, still has burn marks. He continues to be upset over the incident, especially that it may have been prompted by anti-Semitism.
"If it's anti-Semitism, it's a problem," he said. "I have neighbors who are not Jewish, and I have no problems with anybody, black or white. If someone needs help, I will help anyone."
"If I need something, they come help us," he said. "We like to live with our neighbors in peace."
As for the criminal case, Margaretten said, "I leave it for the judge to decide."
The shooting suspect, Shashi Ramsaroop, 23; his pregnant fiancee Lindsey Peaks, 20; and friend Demetrius Latrell Torain, 19, are due in Ramapo Town Court at 11 a.m. Tuesday for a preliminary felony hearing on the charges.
If they are indicted by a grand jury, the case will be moved to Rockland County Court in New City.
The circumstances of the ride that led to the attack are unclear.
The trio, all of whom have local ties, had been held in Rockland County jail after the arrests but were no longer in custody as of Monday evening, an official said.
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