An attack on a Teaneck pediatric office and dry cleaners by a man wielding a hammer should be considered a bias incident, said a mom who hid in a bathroom with her terrified daughter.
“Are you Jewish?” Jill Gordon said he asked her and others during Sunday’s rampage at the Riverside Medical Group on Palisade Avenue.
Camwren T. Cole, 23, of Teaneck – who’d apparently cut himself while smashing windows -- also screamed “They tried to turn me trans!” Gordon said.
Responding officers nabbed the bloody Cole moments later and sent him, in custody, to Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus for a psychological evaluation after he “showed indications indicative of mental illness,” Police Chief Glenn M. O’Reilly said.
Mentally ill or not, Cole committed a hate crime, Gordon said.
“Just because no one got seriously hurt doesn’t mean he did not have intent,” she told JewishLink. “I know they are looking into whether he is mentally ill, but who does something like this who isn’t mentally ill? It doesn’t make it less of a hate crime.
“He was going person to person asking if they were Jewish. We were targeted for being a minority.”
Her daughter, 10, had been complaining of stomach issues and the pediatric group was open on Sunday, Gordon said. They were in the bathroom together when police said Cole began smashing windows with the hammer.
“We heard glass break and screaming,” Gordon said in a social media post. “I opened the door and saw a man in front me holding a hammer with blood dripping down his arm. He ran towards us and yelled ‘Are you Jewish?’”
Protecting her panicked daughter, Gordon slammed the door shut and grabbed a can of bleach.
“I heard him go around asking everyone, ‘Are you Jewish?’” she said.
“We heard movement and doors slamming and the attacker seemingly ran out but we waited in silence in the bathroom just in case,” Gordon wrote in a social media post. “It seemed like hours but it was only about five minutes. Finally we heard doors bursting open and the police had arrived!!”
Officers gathered those who’d barricaded themselves in various rooms, then followed a trail of blood that led down the hallway, out the door and up the street, she said.
Meanwhile, another call came in from Cedar Lane, where Cole had smashed the front window of Parisian Cleaners, said O’Reilly, the police chief.
Bogota and Leonia joined township police at the scene, where Cole was seized without incident, he said.
A receptionist had to be treated by EMS after her nose was cut by flying glass, O'Reilly said.
The officers and detectives who responded were “amazing,” especially with her daughter, Gordon said. She questioned, however, why Cole wasn’t charged with a bias crime.
It wasn’t only his remarks, she said, but also the fact that the medical office accommodates Teaneck’s large Orthodox community by opening on Sunday.
“What is the goal of having (laws governing) bias or hate crimes [if this doesn’t qualify?” Gordon asked.
As a rule, local police consult the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office before filing bias charges. A spokesman for the prosecutor said the office doesn’t comment on pending investigations.
Cole currently is charged with aggravated assault on a health care worker, harassment, weapons possession and three counts of criminal mischief.
NEWS RELEASE from police:See Attachment
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