New York, NY (July 22, 2019) — Last week Hindu American Foundation was horrified to learn that Swami Harish Chander Puri, founder of the Shiv Shakti Peeth mandir, in the Glen Oaks neighborhood of Queens, New York, was brutally attacked during his usual morning walk. The attacker Sergio Gouveia, who reportedly screamed “this is my neighborhood” during the assault, was quickly arrested.

HAF Director of Communications Mat McDermott, based in New York, offered the following statement:

“Such an attack — occurring as it did in the borough of Queens, perhaps the most ethnically diverse place in the entire world — is particularly senseless and tragic. We’re pleased that Swamiji is recovering from his injuries. We’re also pleased that Representatives Tom Suozzi, Grace Meng, and Carolyn Maloney have offered their support to the local Hindu community. In addition, we praise the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio for its quick response, sending community liaison officer Rohan Narine to the mandir. HAF urges police to investigate the attack as a hate crime, and if it is determined that bias was indeed the motivation for the appropriate charges added to those of assault, harassment, and weapons possession that Gouveia already faces.”

HAF urges all members of the Hindu American community to report all bias-motivated attacks and incidents to local law enforcement, as well as record them in our bias-motivated crime reporting form.

Read more: HAF’s Temple Safety and Security Guide