Cops Commended for Saving Schoolchildren During U-Haul Attack

By Hamodia Staff

l-r: Charlie Fasano, Head of School at Bay Ridge Prep; Councilman Justin Brannan; State Sen. Andrew Gounardes; Lieutenant Vitale; Officer Santini; Officer Ingebrethsen; Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. (Office of Sen. Gounardes)

BROOKLYN — Three officers from Brooklyn’s 68th NYPD Precinct were honored by elected officials this week for saving students at Bay Ridge Preparatory School during the deadly U-Haul attack in southern Brooklyn on Feb. 13.

Bay Ridge Prep students were enjoying their recess outside that as part of the city-wide Open Streets program as Weng Sor, an emotionally disturbed 62-year-old, allegedly drove a UHaul van through Bay Ridge and nearby neighborhoods, killing one person and injuring eight, in seven locations over 48 minutes before being taken into police custody.

As the attack unfolded, it became clear that the U-Haul was purposefully targeting pedestrians, bicyclists, and moped riders, and that everyone outdoors in South Brooklyn that morning was a potential target.

Lieutenant John Vitale, Officer Francis Ingebrethsen, and Officer Hector Santini quickly realized the imminent danger Sor’s actions put Bay Ridge Prep students in, and came to the school to alert Bay Ridge Prep’s leadership and usher students to safe shelter inside. Widely viewed bodycam footage shows the officers quickly getting the students off the street and out of harm’s way as the driver rampaged through the neighbrhood.

In recognition of the officer’s actions, state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Councilman Justin Brannan, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams held a commendation ceremony for the officers. Gounardes presented each with a proclamation from the state of New York, and Williams and Brannan presented each with certificates from the City of New York. 

“These students, their families, and our entire community here in southern Brooklyn will be forever grateful for the heroic and quick actions”of the officers, said Gounardes.

“In the heat of the moment of a deadly attack on our neighborhood’s roads, our officers realized immediately that kids would be out having lunch on Bay Ridge Prep’s Open Street,” said Brannan. “That instant recall and split-second decision to get to and protect our kids is only possible thanks to local policing that is truly responsive and engaged with the community. “

“I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Officers Francis Ingebrethsen and Hector Santini, and Lieutenant John Vitale for their selfless dedication to keeping our community safe,” Charles Fasano, head of school at bay Ridge Prep, said the officers’ “efforts are not just limited to the day of the incident, but extend to every day that they serve our community.”

Sor has been charged with murder and ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

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