At about 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the man threw two watermelons to the ground at the Division Mini Mart on Clymer Street when he began cursing at the storekeeper, cops said.
“I hate Jews!” the store manager – who gave only his first name, Moses – quoted the man as yelling. “You should all die!” Moses said he told the man – who other witnesses said might have been drunk – that he would have to pay for the watermelons but the man refused.
Several witnesses claim the man yelled, “I will shoot you!” Moses said he would call police. That prompted the man to barge out of the store, and push a 13- or 14-year-old boy to the ground as he knocked the black fedora off his head – a grave insult to Orthodox Jews.
“It’s absolutely an insult to be without the hat’ . . . It’s a tremendous violation of privacy against a person,” said community leader Isaac Abraham.
The man then began running down Clymer Street while a group of about 25 neighborhood residents gave chase, catching up with him in front of Steinberg’s Kosher Bakery two blocks away. There, a Post photographer saw at least two men wrestle the man to the ground.
A large crowd – including members of the Shomrim, a volunteer community patrol – gathered around him as he lay on the ground. They held him at bay until police arrived from the 90th Precinct.
A woman who works at the bakery and gave only her first name, Judy, said the man seemed apologetic. “I heard him tell [cops], ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it,’ ” she said.
Abraham insisted no one roughed the man up. “Nobody touched him while he was on the ground,” he said. “There is no reason to overreact.”
Officers patted the man down and found no weapons or other contraband on him. No one came forward to press charges, so he was let go.
Moses said ‘the outcome of the incident “bothers me. I wanted to press charges.”
The neighborhood has grown much safer compared to a decade ago, but has seen an uptick in crime in the past year. According to police statistics, major crime is up over 13 percent compared to last year – with robberies up 11 percent, burglaries up 13 percent, grand larceny up 24 percent and the number of murders jumping from one to three.