(CNN) -- New York police are weighing whether to pursue hate crime charges in the vicious beating of a white man last week.
The suspect in the beating, who is black, was heard making statements similar to "I'm going to punch the first white man I see," according to New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. The department's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident.
The 62-year-old victim, identified by a neighbor as Jeffrey Babbitt, is in critical condition at Bellevue Hospital after the Wednesday attack, Kelly said. Two other men were also assaulted as they tried to help Babbitt, police said.
Lashawn Marten has been charged with three counts of assault, one of them a felony. He was being held in the Manhattan Detention Complex as of Sunday, according to its website.
Robert Pizzimenti, a neighbor of Babbitt's, described the man as "a lovable guy."
"He was the kind of guy who always was doing favors for people. If you needed a ride to an appointment. You could call Jeff and he'd say, 'Yeah,i'll take ya,'" Pizzimenti said.