Thursday, February 25, 2016
Leiby Brikman was a few feet away from his Brooklyn apartment when he felt a sudden sharp pain in his back.
"I knew right away," he recalled of the stabbing on Empire Blvd. near Kingston Ave. in Crown Heights on Feb. 10.
Brikman, 25, who was wearing a yarmulke, suffered a punctured lung.
The suspect, a black man wearing a blue hoodie, fled south on Albany Ave. toward Lefferts Blvd., according to surveillance video. A stunned Brikman tried to call Hatzolah, the Jewish volunteer ambulance service. But he struggled to find the number, so he stumbled into a check cashing store where several good Samaritans ran to help.
Cops have not declared it a hate crime, noting the suspect said nothing during the violence. Brikman was wearing Hasidic garb and was blocks away from away from the national headquarters of the Chabad Hasidic group.
"It's definitely a hate crime," Brikman told the Daily News on Wednesday. "The neighborhood represents world Jewry."
The rabbinical scholar was married two weeks before the attack. On his way to the hospital, he made sure the EMTs called his wife and parents.
"I was shocked," his wife Mushka recalled. "I just ran to the hospital."
At Kings County Hospital, doctors inserted a chest tube and discovered the wound was a quarter of an inch away from his heart.
"I think God was watching us," Brikman's mother, Rivkah, said.
Still, the nightmare continued.
Two days after getting admitted to the hospital, Brikman suddenly became pale and started to suffer immense pain. Doctors rushed him to surgery.
During the operation, they found that a major blood vessel near his lung was cut by the blade, causing internal bleeding. They patched up the wound but not before he lost a liter and a half of blood.
Eventually, he was transferred to New York University Hospital and finally allowed to come home last weekend.
Now, Brikman, a rabbinical student, is recuperating at his parents' home in Seagate, Brooklyn.
There, he notes his family has a long history of being targeted because of their religious faith, including four family elders who were killed in Europe before and during World War II.
"America is supposed to be a safe place where everyone can practice their own religion," he said. "When a hate crime like this happens it brings to mind my grandparents being killed."
He urged the NYPD to boost security in the area — where three Jewish people have been stabbed over the past year. "I hope police take it seriously," he said. "They neighborhood needs more security to prevent the next attack."
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