WOODSIDE — The NYPD does not believe the attack on a churchgoing man who was punched in the face was a hate crime — despite sources saying that he was asked if he was Filipino before he was assaulted — and attributed it instead to a fight after a World Cup match.
Robert Martires, 56, was pronounced dead early Tuesday morning after he was punched by an unknown person on Roosevelt Avenue near 69th Street in Woodside early Saturday morning.
Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said Wednesday that the NYPD doesn't "have any belief that it was a hate crime at this juncture.”
“It looks [like] it was after the World Cup," he said. "That’s what it looks like, a fight there after.”
On Friday, Italy faced off against Costa Rica, France beat Switzerland and Ecuador beat Honduras.
The NYPD press office said that the Hate Crimes Task Force was not investigating the incident.
Martires, a father of two and a limo driver, was out with a friend and was being taunted for being Filipino, according to sources.
The friend said Martires was asked "Are you Filipino?" before being punched in the face just after midnight on Saturday, but the witness didn't mention the ethnic taunts to investigators at first, sources said.
Martires fell and hit his head on the ground and was brought to Elmhurst Hospital in critical condition. He died Tuesday morning from his injuries.
A memorial was erected Tuesday near the site of the attack, and had grown by Wednesday afternoon to include a flag of the Philippines, flowers, and collection baskets to help pay for Martires' wake and funeral.
His wake will be held Friday at the Kennedy-Roth Funeral Home at 41-45 58th St in Woodside from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.
Signs with the suspect's photo, captured on surveillance video, were put up on Roosevelt Avenue near the memorial and neighbors said they now feel unsafe on the street.
"This is not right," said Lucy Alarcon, 56, who said she knew Martires from the neighborhood, describing him as a good guy.
She thought the police should investigate the attack as a hate crime and said there was "no reason why he was killed."
"The Filipino community needs justice," she added.