As has been widely reported, 31 year-old black male Lashawn Marten shouted that he “hated white people” before punching 62 year-old Jeffrey Babbitt – “who is white”– in the face, after which Babbitt fell and struck his head. Tragically, Babbitt has now succumbed to his injuries.
Marten also “made statements to the effect that I’m going to punch the first white man that I see,” according to New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
The incident is being investigated as a potential hate crime. Per FBI statistics, just over 15% of race-related hate crimes were aimed at white people in 2012.
Babbitt was a longtime resident of the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn, where neighbors and friends were shocked by news of the assault. “Everybody’s broken up about this,” neighbor Audrey Feifer, 75, told Newsday. “If you had to go to the doctor or anywhere, he would take you.”
Though currently charged with second and third degree assault, Marten’s charges could be upgraded when he goes before the grand jury on Tuesday.