A suspect has been charged in the attack on two Muslin teens outside a Sunset Park mosque over Independence Day weekend, according to police.
Sunset Park resident Christopher Vallaro, 31, surrendered to the NYPD’s 72nd Precinct on Wednesday with his attorney. He has been charged with assault, menacing, and harassment, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.
Vallaro jumped the two victims after they tried to talk to his girlfriend while she was sitting in a car outside of the Mabine Muslim Community Center, on Third Avenue and 53rd Street, according police. The teens approached the woman and made a comment about her “revealing attire” before Vallaro showed up, police sources told Sunset Park Voice.
Vallaro stomped and punched the two 16-year-old boys until their faces were swollen, and bruised. One of the victims said he heard Vallaro call them “f—ing terrorists,” and scream that “Muslims are the cause of all the problems in the world.”
Police say the attack wasn’t classified as a hate crime because the incident was triggered by the victims’ actions towards Vallaro’s girlfriend, and the anti-Muslim comments came in the heat of the moment.
However, sources told the New York Daily News that the chief prosecutor for hate crimes at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office was speaking to detectives, signaling that the case might be reevaluated.
On Tuesday afternoon, family and friends of one of the victims — who is from Bay Ridge — marched peacefully with the Arab Muslim American Federation from its 7111 5th Avenue headquarters to Senator Marty Golden’s office to raise awareness about crimes perpetuated against Muslims. The Republican Senator was the only locally elected official to endorse Donald Trump — known for his anti-Muslim rhetoric — ahead of the New York primaries.
The mosque’s director Mohamed Bahe told us that he had requested additional police patrols during Ramadan due to an uptick anti-Muslim crimes in the city and nationwide, but police were unresponsive.
Captain Emmanuel Gonzalez, commanding officer of the NYPD’s 72nd Precinct, dropped by the mosque Sunday afternoon to apologize for the lack of police presence around the mosque during Ramadan. According to Bahe, the commanding officer said he was not aware of the mosque, which is significantly smaller than some of the other Muslim houses of worship in the area.
“Which didn’t really make sense because we contacted you guys numerous times,” Bahe told us. “In the beginning they said ‘OK, maybe we’ll start tomorrow,’ but no cars ever showed up.”
Gonzalez also cited a lack of resources saying most of his units were being utilized at a larger mosque nearby, according to Bahe.
In the end, Bahe said, the community opted to hire their own security guard from 8pm to midnight. When we visited the mosque Sunday night, Bahe noted that there were still no patrol cars parked outside.
Vallaro was arraigned and his bail was set at $12,000. His next court date is set for July 20.