According to the pols, NYPD officers immediately apprehended the perpetrator following the attack. The suspect, identified by reports as 52-year-old Sergio Gouveia, was charged with assault.
Gouveia reportedly yelled “get out of my neighborhood” before attacking the 62-year-old priest.
State Senator John Liu noted that Puri was wearing his religious robe and was attacked just blocks from the temple, which “evokes every fear that this was a hate crime.”
“Tragically, I’ve seen too many attacks of this type to believe this was a random act of violence” Liu said. “We all stand together united in our resolve to denounce hate and to promote peace in this community.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James joined lawmakers to denounce the attack on Tuesday. She said New York has “zero tolerance” for hate and bigotry of any kind.
“This was a disgusting act of hate that is antithetical to our basic values and our fundamental belief that all are welcomed here,” she said.
Congresswoman Grace Meng added that the brutal assault was “un-American.” She also called for the perpetrator to be charged with a hate crime.
“People from across the globe call Queens home, and we are proud to embrace this rich diversity that exists in our communities and neighborhoods,” Meng said.