The New York City Police Department is searching for multiple suspects after two Jewish men were sprayed with fire extinguishers in separate incidents, police said Tuesday.
The incidents are being investigated as part of a hate crime assault pattern, police said, and the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating.
A group of people allegedly approached a 72-year-old man and sprayed him with a fire extinguisher early Sunday in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, according to the NYPD.
Video shows someone approaching the man from behind and spraying him with the fire extinguisher. The person stops spraying, runs into the street and then appears to try to follow the man and spray him again before running away about 10 seconds later.
Police say no words were exchanged before the incident and the suspects immediately fled. The man was not injured.
“One guy ran after me and he started to spray,” the victim, who was not identified, told CNN affiliate WCBS in an interview. “I tried to walk as fast as I can.”
Surveillance video shows someone with a fire extinguisher walking toward the man and spraying him twice for several seconds.
Around the same time and about a 10-minute walk away from the first incident, police said, a group of people allegedly approached a 66-year-old man. One person sprayed the man with a fire extinguisher and punched him, police said.
The group fled after the incident and the victim refused medical attention at the scene.
There have been no arrests in relation to either incident, police said.
New York state leads the nation in anti-Semitic incidents, with at least 416 reported in 2021, including at least 51 assaults – the highest number ever recorded by the Anti-Defamation League in New York. There were 12 assaults reported in 2020, the ADL said in an audit last week.
A total of 2,717 anti-Semitic incidents were reported last year across the nation – a 34% increase compared to 2,026 in 2020, according to the ADL.
The ADL has been tracking such incidents since 1979 – and its previous reports have found that anti-Semitism in America has been on the rise for years.
The US assaults last year included that of a Jewish man in New York City who was beaten and kicked while anti-Semitic slurs were hurled at him. He was on his way to a pro-Israel demonstration at Times Square on May 20.
CNN’s Laura Studley and Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this story.