ORTHODOX JEW ATTACKED BY A LUNATIC IN MONTREAL - CULPRIT IS OUT THERE NOW
A Hasidic man was severely beaten and injured, but not robbed, after leaving a bank in Outremont on Thursday evening.
The 29-year-old father of five exited the bank at the corner of Van Horne and McEachran Aves. around 7:15 p.m. when he was attacked, choked and had an unknown liquid poured over him.
The attacker, who police say is a white male in his 20s, had not been found on Friday.
A witness who lives in the community, who did not want his name published under the circumstances, says he was in the bank moments before the attack.
He and two friends left the bank, where they noticed a man sitting on the bench outside the door facing Van Horne Ave. He described the man as a muscular 25-year-old, and said he was holding a Naya-branded water bottle in his hands.
The man seemed "cold," and there was something unsettling about him, the witness said. Having lived in the area for a long time and running a local restaurant for years, he said he had never seen him before in the neighbourhood.
"When you see a new face, you notice it," the witness said. "There was something strange about his calmness, about how he was sitting there."
The three friends walked by him after leaving the bank and were talking near the street corner when they heard a loud crack come from behind them. They turned and saw the victim sprawled on the concrete with his attacker emptying the bottle over him.
Two of the friends chased after the attacker for about two blocks while calling the police at the same time, who told them to stop pursuing the man for their own safety.
The witness stayed with the victim, who was bleeding heavily from the side of his head. He was still moving around on the ground, but not responding to questions.
"We were all panicking, but I told him 'don't move, try not to move. You've been attacked, help is on its way.' "
"It reeked of gasoline," the witness said. "I'm 100 per cent sure, there was no car close by, it's whatever he poured on him that smelled like gas."
Samples of the liquid found at the scene will be tested to determine what it is, Montreal police said on Friday. They would not confirm whether it was a flammable liquid.
A police canine unit searched the area Thursday night to try to find the container for the liquid, but none was found.
The witness said the victim and the suspect never spoke, and there were no slurs or any insults directed toward him. "It all happened very quickly," he said.
Nothing was stolen during the attack — the victim still had his phone, keys and wallet afterward. The motive for the beating was still being investigated on Friday, police said. Police would not say whether they considered the attack a hate crime.
There were security cameras at the bank, but police could not confirm on Friday if the cameras had recorded the attack.
Barry, a member of the Hasidic community in Outremont who did not want his last name published for safety reasons, said he knows the victim well. He described him as a loving father.
"He's very well known and respected in the community," he said. "I can't think of any reason why anyone would have wanted to do this to him."
He said the victim was in an induced coma Thursday night, and the man's family had spent the day with him in the hospital Friday, hoping he would wake up. "They're incredibly troubled and, obviously, saddened," he said.