HUDSON HEIGHTS — An Uptown dad buying ice cream for his two children and their grandmother in Washington Heights last week was assaulted by a man who tried to steal his gold chain, police said.
The victim was about to purchase ice cream at a Mister Softee truck parked near the 190th Street A train subway entrance just outside of Jacob Javitz Park at 3:30 p.m. on June 18 when the suspect tried to snatch a gold chain from his neck and dragged him down the street by the neck while his family looked on in horror, police and witnesses said.
The attacker, who wore a dark hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head, was unsuccessful in stealing the necklace, but got away when he ran south along Fort Washington Avenue near West 192nd Street and jumped into a car that was double parked by Mother Cabrini High School, witnesses reported.
The victim suffered bruising around his neck where the necklace was yanked, a bloody elbow and cuts on his head and body.
Witnesses said the children and grandmother were not hurt but visibly shaken at the scene of the crime.
Local parents and residents said they were horrified that such a heartless incident could happen in their neighborhood.
“I grew up in NYC, I know these things happen here and everywhere, but nonetheless it was very upsetting,” one witness to the crime wrote on a parenting email list in Washington Heights.
“This was mid-afternoon on a beautiful day with plenty of people around, and all this man wanted was to buy his kids some ice cream.”
The incident comes amid a string of violent attacks that have occurred throughout the 34th Precinct, including two men who were attacked for $40 and an iPhone in Inwood and Washington Heights, one of whom was just around the corner from the ice cream truck.
Each of those victims was beaten with no warning and suffered significant injuries as a result of the attacks, police said.
Police said the disturbing trend differs from previous muggings that have taken place in the precinct, in that each incident was extremely violent and had an element of surprise.
“With upticks in crimes such as this, we of course deploy personnel accordingly and have in those areas,” said Deputy Inspector Barry Buzzetti, commanding officer of the 34th Precinct.
Increased patrols throughout the areas in question have been visible throughout the month, including foot patrols and extra squad cars near Fort Tryon and Isham parks.
But residents want assurances that the patrols are here to stay.
“We’ve seen additional cops in the past, but it always seems to be a stop-gap measure,” said Washington Heights resident Maurice Vente. “We need a plan that will last.”