By Danit Shusterman for COLlive
On Tuesday morning at 9:30 AM, I walked my daughter down Sterling Street toward Beis Rivkah on Lefferts Avenue. As we approached Brooklyn Avenue, we walked past a man standing on the sidewalk who immediately started yelling profanities at us. I took my daughter’s arm and told her to walk fast, as we were just a short block from school. The man proceeded to run after us and continued yelling.
As we were getting away from him, I took out my phone. My hands were shaking, so I said, “Hey Siri, call Shomrim.” The phone dialed and Shomrim answered right away. I told them someone was following us and we felt really threatened and to please hurry and send someone right away.
Less than a minute later, after my daughter went into the school and I proceeded to walk back home (walking a different way than I came), Shomrim called me to say they had spotted someone and asked me to identify him with a photo. They sent me the photo and it was that man.
During this time, this man had also managed to spit at people and got increasingly aggressive. The NYPD showed up quite fast as well and took him into custody for questioning.
When I thanked Shomrim for being so on top of the situation, the response I received was, ‘We love our shechuna.’
I learned a lot from this experience. Namely- don’t wait for something to actually happen in order to call for help. When this man was following us and yelling, my heart was beating fast and my hands were shaking. This was a sign that we were in danger, and so I called right away. And they showed up right away.
Siri comes in really handy in a time of panic. I had saved Shomrim’s number on my phone, hoping to never have to use it. My brain was in no place to open my phone and go to contacts and find Shomrim’s number. I simply said, ‘Hey Siri, call Shomrim’ and within seconds, they were on the phone.
My advice to Crown Heights residents? Take out your phone right now and save this number: +1 (718) 774-3333 under Shomrim. I hope you never have to call them. But in the event you feel the tiniest bit threatened, call them because they show up and get things done.
Whether this guy is back in the neighborhood or not, we gave him (and hopefully any other people who were standing around and videoing him being taken into custody) the message that if you threaten others, you will end up in the back of a squad car, handcuffed and headed to 71st precinct.
As the police cars pulled away and Shomrim went back to business as usual, our friendly delivery guy Lopez walked over. He had seen this all unfold and said, “You don’t need to worry Danit, Hashem is protecting you.” I told him that this was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.
May Hashem keep us strong and safe, wherever we are in the world.