NEW YORK (WCBS-TV) — A man was driving his mother in his SUV when a group of men on bicycles jumped on the vehicle, beating the windows and yelling for them to get out.
Surveillance video shows the wild scene in Midtown. WCBS-TV’s Hazel Sanchez spoke with the driver, who said he hasn’t slept and his mother is severely traumatized by Tuesday’s mob attack. Both said they thought their lives were over.
As the footage shows, it was a terrifying afternoon sight. A group of young bicyclists surround an SUV and throw their bodies and bikes onto vehicle as its driver freezes in fear. The attackers finally retreat after one jumps onto the hood and smashes the windshield.
Max Torgovnick, of the Upper East Side, was behind the wheel of that vehicle.
“When he smashed the glass, at that point my biggest fear was, they’re going to get in the car, they’re going to pull me out, and I could be killed,” Torgovnick said. “All I could hear was my mother crying and screaming. That’s what haunts me the most.”
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Torgovnick said the confrontation began while he and his 74-year-old mother were heading down Fifth Avenue at East 22nd Street in his BMW SUV. He said dozens of bicyclists surrounded his SUV, grabbing onto the vehicle for a ride.
“There was someone doing a wheelie right behind the car and he crashed into the back and that’s kind of what instigated everything,” Torgovnick said. “All of them were off their bikes surrounding the car, banging on the glass, banging on the hood, screaming, ‘Get out of the car! Roll down your window!'”
“Before I knew it, my mom is crying. She’s screaming into the phone to the 911 operator, ‘Help! Send help! We are going to die. They are going to kill us,'” he added.
Torgovnick said he stopped the car and put it in park, concerned any movement could hurt someone outside or escalate the violence.
“It wasn’t until they started jumping on the windshield and smashed the glass and we had glass raining on top of us that I saw an opening and I said, ‘I need to get out of here. I need to now protect my mom. This is now a point of self defense. This is life or death,'” Torgovnick said.
Police released still images of some of the cyclists they looking for.
“I’ve lived here my entire life as a New Yorker, for 36 years. I feel like I’m entitled to answers from the city as to what allowed this to happen and what they’re going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen to anybody else again,” Torgovnick said.
Police believe the cyclists they are looking for are teenagers. A security guard who works in the neighborhood said the group of cyclists has caused problems in the area before.