January 12, 2016
BROOKLYN, NY, January 12, 2016: Yesterday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams honored a trio of crime fighters, including some unconventional community champions, as his latest “Heroes of the Month.” His diverse array of honorees include Luis Ruiz and his stepson Antonio Piña, a pair of karate instructors from East Williamsburg who rescued a woman from an attempted rape; Ahmed Khalifa, a Muslim high school student from Midwood who helped cops arrest the assailant of an Orthodox Jewish woman on the subway, and NYPD Detective Steven Franzel, the lead investigator on an operation that resulted in the apprehension of more than 40 gang members and associates. All honorees were present — many with their family, friends, and colleagues — to share their stories and to formally be recognized by Borough President Adams, who highlighted every Brooklynite’s personal role in fighting crime.
“These ‘Heroes of the Month’ may come from varied walks of life, but they share a commitment to public safety that goes above and beyond the call of duty,” said Borough President Adams. “Far too often people stand back and watch things happen and say it’s not their business. Brooklyn is a safer place to raise healthy children and families because of these honorees’ service to our communities, and they have our deepest appreciation and thanks.”
Borough President Adams announced that his “Heroes of the Month” for November are Ruiz, a 46-year-old martial arts master, and Piña, his 28-year-old stepson and a fellow karate instructor. On Monday, October 17th, they were heading for their apartment on Siegel Court when they heard strange sounds coming from behind a van nearby. Even though it was late, instinct told them to check it out. They found a man on top of and aggressively shaking 27-year-old Miriam Braverman, who was shaking her roughly. Ruiz and Piña approached and asked if everything was okay. The man walked away nonchalantly, without turning to show his face. When Braverman lifted her head, they saw she was covered in blood. Ruiz told Piña to follow the attacker while he stayed with the victim. Piña, who was an auxiliary police officer for seven years for the nearby 90th Precinct, got cops on the phone and told them exactly where the man was headed. When a police vehicle pulled up, Piña helped identify him for arrest.
“These men are both first-degree heroes who showed not just their physical strength, but their emotional and mental fortitude,” said Borough President Adams. “As a former police officer, I know no crime has more of a chilling impact on a family than sexual abuse, and we were able to prevent that from happening here.
“There’s a saying in Judaism that if you save one life, it’s as if you save the entire world,” said Braverman. “It never made any sense until this happened. They saved my life.”
Khalifa, a 17-year-old senior at Midwood High School, was named December’s “Hero of the Month” by Borough President Adams. On Tuesday, December 27th, while he was on a Coney Island-bound Q train near the Newkirk Avenue station, coming home after working a shift at the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, he saw a man slam his open hand into the face of an Orthodox Jewish woman, who was simply reading her book. The victim suffered a gashed lip, smashed glasses, and a brief loss in consciousness. When the assailant ran off, Khalifa held the subway doors and yelled at the conductor to stay in the station and call for help. After he lost the attacker, he tried to flag down a police car. When an Orthodox man passing by asked him what happened, Khalifa told him and the man offered to help, along with numerous members of the Flatbush Shomrim. Khalifa spotted the attacker at a bus stop and the group waited quietly while he got on the bus and cops arrived, working to apprehend the crazed and violent man. Additionally, seven months ago, Khalifa helped pull a suicidal homeless man away from jumping onto the tracks from a train.
“Ahmed exemplifies One Brooklyn and its spirit,” said Borough President Adams. “I want to thank him personally because, far too often, people sit back and just let things happen. He saw this as his business.”
Borough President Adams named Detective Franzel of Narcotics Bureau Brooklyn South as January’s “Hero of the Month. He was the lead investigator of Operation Rose Garden, which was taken down the Friday before Labor Day in an attempt to curb gun violence that holiday weekend; the indictments in this effort are currently being finished up at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. More than 60 case buys were conducted with five different undercover officers into 12 identified narcotics offenders. These buys produced 10 search warrants sworn out at Kings County Supreme Court. Upon the simultaneous executions of all the search warrants, 41 individuals, which included members and associates of the Crips street gang, were apprehended and charged with crimes of conspiracy, criminal sale of a controlled substance, and criminal possession of a weapon. Ten loaded firearms, more than one kilogram of cocaine, more than five pounds of marijuana, a large quantity of heroin, 50 forged credit cards, and additional evidence associated with the packaging and distribution of narcotics were recovered.
“This was a massive operation, and it is the type of operation that needs to be replicated as we go after the gangs terrorizing neighborhoods in central and eastern Brooklyn,” said Borough President Adams. “One of the most difficult assignments you can have in the NYPD is a bust like this. Undercover investigators are out there, for the most part up against some of the most violent people in the city, and they do it every day without any form of recognition.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams enjoyed a laugh with his “Heroes of the Month” from November, Luis Ruiz (center) and his stepson Antonio Piña (right), following a ceremony in the Rotunda of Brooklyn Borough Hall; the pair of karate instructors from East Williamsburg were lauded for rescuing a woman from an attempted rape.
Photo Credit: Erica Sherman/Brooklyn BP’s Office
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams announced that Ahmed Khalifa, a Muslim high school student from Midwood who helped cops arrest the assailant of an Orthodox Jewish woman on the subway, was named his “Hero of the Month” for December; the declaration was made during a ceremony in the Rotunda of Brooklyn Borough Hall.
Photo Credit: Erica Sherman/Brooklyn BP’s Office
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