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Hate Crime Charges Could Be Coming In Union Square Rampage

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A suspect could face hate crime charges in a random act of violence that reportedly left a man brain dead in Union Square Park this week.

As 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria reported, a homeless man was the one who allegedly spewed the hate. Lashawn Marten, 31, was watching people play chess in the park on Wednesday, and reportedly complained that nobody wanted to play chess with him.

Then, he allegedly said he would punch "the next white person" he saw, and began attacking people.

Hate Crime Charges Could Be Coming In Union Square Rampage

"He said 'the next white person who walks by I'm going to [expletive],'" one woman told CBS 2's Dave Carlin. "His fist went in and the man's head bobbed and he hit the ground and you could hear his skull hitting the ground."

The victim the woman mentioned was Jeffrey Babbitt, 62, who had been minding his own business as he walked through the crowd near the chess boards when Marten allegedly attacked.

The man continued his rampage before demanding to see police officers.

"He stood there and hit two more people and asked for the police to come," Michael Benson said.

Stunned witnesses counted a total of three people attacked. Marten remained at the scene until police arrived, Carlin reported.

Babbitt was on the ground with blood flowing from his head. Nearby were two other victims icing their faces.

Babbitt, a gentle retired train conductor, was taken to Bellevue Hospital. Family and friends said that he is in a coma and has been declared brain-dead.

Jeffrey Babbitt
Jeffrey Babbitt (Photo: Handout)

"I don't believe that. I don't know why that happened. He is very nice," Igor Sapozhnikov said.

Because of Marten's alleged comments about targeting white people the incident could result in hate crime charges in addition to felony assault charges, according to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

"Obviously our Hate Crimes Task Force is involved in aspects of that case," Kelly said.

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