On June 21, Lester Sloan witnesses a rabbi being mugged in Southfield neighborhood and jumps into action.
Lester Sloan was driving to his job as a caregiver when he noticed three teenagers attacking a man walking home from a synagogue.
A report from Fox 2 Detroit indicated the teenagers were “body slamming” the man, attempting to rob him in the process. But because the incident fell on Shabbat, the man had neither his cellphone or money on him.
“I saw the reflective vest fly into the air — they were tossing him around like a ragdoll,” Sloan says. “As soon as I got out of the car, they all took off down the street in the dark — I couldn’t see anybody or what kind of clothes they were wearing.”
Sloan has worked as a caregiver for a client on Lathrup Boulevard near 10 Mile in Southfield for eight years, right where he witnessed this attack.
When he saw the teenagers ganging up on the 27-year-old man, he stopped his car and ran towards the violence.
“When I came around the corner after 10 Mile I kind of thought it was a bunch of horseplay,” Sloan says. “I kind of got closer and it wasn’t anyone in the neighborhood that I would have known and saw they were attacking a Jewish gentleman so I stopped. Come to find out it was a rabbi.”
The teenagers ran away, leaving the man bruised and beat up, but not injured. The police were called, but the group of attackers had fled from the scene.
Gary Sikorski, Director of Community-Wide Security for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, advises those who are walking alone at night to practice situational awareness if traveling in a group is not a possibility.
“Be aware of your surroundings,” Sikorski says. “It’s a lot easier to avoid a problem than to get out of a problem. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and look for potential hazards.”
For those in a safer setting such as a car or building, having situational awareness like Sloan can help prevent other people from being in danger as well.
“It’s sort of funny… as soon as a person that’s up to no good sees that somebody else is paying attention, that’s often enough to have them move along or stop doing what they intended to do,” Sikorski says.
After the attack, Sloan took to Facebook to talk about the incident on the Metro Detroit Crime Facebook page, sharing that he is “…tired of seeing the beatings, the killings, robbing all the senseless stuff. If you want something, go get a job and pay for it like I do.”
“I live at 6 Mile and Evergreen…I would expect that stuff to go on there but not here in Southfield, not in the Jewish community,” Sloan says.
Police are still on the lookout for the perpetrators, which Sloan believes live near Hilton Street.
Read the extended story in this week’s edition of the Detroit Jewish News.