In his first public comments on the abduction and murder of Williamsburg resident Menachem Stark, Hy”d, Mayor Bill de Blasio called it a “very painful moment” for the Jewish community.
De Blasio, in his first interview on a Jewish media outlet since his election in November, told Leon Goldenberg’s “Community Matters” show on Motzoei Shabbos that police are dedicated to apprehending the killers.
“We are going to be very, very focused,” de Blasio told Goldenberg, a Flatbush activist who is a longtime friend of the mayor’s. “We know that the NYPD, working with the Nassau County authorities, are making this a highest priority, to solve this once and for all.”
The murder of Mr. Stark, 39, in the early morning hours of Jan. 3, have cast a pall on New York’s Orthodox community, particularly as more than a week passed with the perpetrators still on the loose.
Two masked men were caught on video grabbing the real estate developer outside his office on a snowy Thursday night, thrusting him into a waiting van. Investigators have no solid leads in the death of the husband and father of seven, the youngest barely 2 years old and the oldest 16.
On Sunday, the family gathered at the Kiryas Joel beis hachaim for a hakamas matzeivah, two days after concluding the shivah.
A heartbreaking addendum to the tragedy was an offensive Post front page, which was denounced by an array of elected officials.
The mayor condemned the piece on Motzoei Shabbos, in an interview prerecorded Friday.
“It is a tragedy what happened to Mr. Stark, and my heart goes out to his family and they are in my thoughts and prayers,” de Blasio said. “And I know for many, many people in the Jewish community this has been a very painful moment. I want to say first of all, we are going to get to the bottom of this. We are going to find who did this to him, who robbed children of a father, and a wife of a husband.”
“I have seen many headlines that were not appropriate,” de Blasio said. “This was particularly inappropriate. The family was in pain, the community was in pain, and that headline was inappropriate, it was unfair, it was hurtful and there really is no place for that kind of thing in this city.”
“So I know a lot of people are outraged,” he added, “and I share their outrage.”
De Blasio had been criticized for not commenting on the murder or the tabloid reaction to it.
A Hamodia editorial on Wednesday questioned why “de Blasio’s voice has been missing from the uproar.”
De Blasio reiterated his promise made during the primary campaign, that he was seeking a close working relationship with the Orthodox community.
“We worked together when I was a public advocate, and now as mayor. And I look forward to continuing to work closely with the community, with the leaders of the community and to make sure that government is responsive.”
De Blasio did not release details on the Stark investigation, even as rumors are swirling on the possibilities. Police last week released additional video of a masked suspect, and they are looking for DNA near a nearby wall.
On Motzoei Shabbos, law enforcement sources revealed that they found cell phone trackers on the bottom of Stark’s van.