By COLlive reporter
Hundreds of community members packed into the main hall of the Jewish Children’s Museum Thursday to attend a briefing by the NYPD on the developments of a recent stabbing in Crown Heights.
NYPD Brooklyn South Chief Steven Powers, flanked by the new Commanding Officer of the 71st Precinct Deputy Inspector Norman Grandstaff, said he was there to announce “good news,” and related that “due to the fine work of the police officers involved,” 26-year-old Kenny Rochelin had been arrested following two stabbings he committed on Wednesday evening.
Following an investigation, Rochelin is also being charged with the February 10 stabbing of 25-year-old Leiby Brikman on Empire Blvd. in Crown Heights.
Rochelin is being charged with attempted murder 2 as a hate crime in the assault on Brikman, Powers said, citing an extensive manhunt and the “longest tracking on video of any suspect on foot, from location to location…than I’ve ever seen in my 35 years with the police department.”
Video: Remarks by NYPD Brooklyn South Chief Steven Powers
While many participants expressed their gratitude to the NYPD for their work in apprehending the suspect, many remained skeptical about the arrest, specifically mentioning the timing as “suspicious” and an “11th hour surprise,” coming mere hours before the briefing with the community.
“While I am very grateful to the NYPD who came to our home and followed up with us, I am very cautious about it and have questions about the timing,” said Mrs. Rivkah Brikman, who spoke passionately about her family’s need for certainty in the case.
“People are asking if I’m happy they caught this person,” Brikman said. “I’m happy for right now…but I need a follow up. The DNA on the knife is still pending. I need to know if the person who stabbed Leiby is the same person who stabbed the other two.”
Video: Remarks by Mrs. Rivkah Brikman
Chief Powers reiterated that the police are certain that the man they caught is the correct one, citing a search warrant of the attacker’s residence which he said turned up the clothing he had worn during the attack on Leiby Brikman, among other possessions.
“We think we’ve got a very winnable, prosecutable case,” he said.
Community members were given a chance to ask questions of Chief Powers, many of whom expressed concern for the security situation in the Crown Heights community and the growing crime in the neighborhood.
Chief Powers said that Crown Heights is assigned more cops than other neighborhoods on a regular basis, due to the unique situation that exists among residents and the many visitors who frequent the area.
Devorah Halberstam, community activist whose son Ari Halberstam was murdered in a terror attack, said she is “thrilled” about the arrest.
“I have complete faith in the NYPD, and I believe they put everything into this investigation. When they got the lucky break and caught this guy, it was because they were out there putting all their resources into solving the case,” Halberstam said.