A Queens man was arrested for the alleged harassment of two men and a child at the Costco on Rockaway Turnpike in North Lawrence on Dec. 8, Nassau police said.
Justin Pichizaca, 20, of 152nd Street, allegedly threatened two men, Rabbi Avrumi Fridman, 37, and a 34-year-old, and an 11-year-old child with physical violence and yelled religious slurs at them inside the store.
“In the restroom, he began shouting racial slurs at me,” said Fridman, who spoke about the incident at Town of Hempstead Town Hall on Dec. 10, alongside Councilman Bruce Blakeman. “Outside of the restroom, he lunged towards me while I just kept stepping back. There was some fear in my mind, but the drive to protect my community and family helped overcome the fears.”
Fridman recorded video of the incident, which helped police in the subsequent investigation that led to finding Pichizaca and his arrest.
“I urge all the people of the county that if you see someone being harrassed, step up and say something,” Fridman said. “If nothing is being done, these bigots will become more bull in their actions.”
Pichizaca was charged with two counts aggravated harassment second-degree, race/religion; and one count of menacing third-degree. His next court date is Jan. 3. He is being represented by the Legal Aid Society of Nassau County. Pichizaca was release on his own recognizance and a temporary order of protection was issued by the court.
Blakeman called Fridman a hero for taking a video of the incident. “He took the video of courageously,” Blakeman said. “He wanted to make sure he documented what happen so that person could be brought to justice and not do harm to others.”
Fridman noted that he feels no relief from the incident. “I am the grandson of Holocaust survivors that lost their relatives at the hands of the Nazis,” he said. “I must lament that in 2019, I find it unsettling that an identifiable Jewish-American can not feel safe shopping in their local Costco.”