Bal Harbour Police say Daniel Starikov was jogging through their city on a Friday night in March when he threatened a Jewish couple with anti-Semitic taunts and then spit on a Jewish man as the Orthodox Jews walked along Collins Avenue after attending religious services earlier in the day.
By phone, we spoke with the victim who was spit on as he walked with friends. Police say some in the group were wearing customary religious clothing.
“As he passed by he went “pfft”, spitting on us and I immediately realized it was like a hate crime that he basically was doing it because we were Jewish,” said the man, who asked not to be identified. “My parents were Holocaust survivors and I’m certainly not going to stand for that.”
The victim’s wife, who was walking behind him that night, said an attack like this cannot be condoned.
“I think it’s not fair that it happen to anyone else,” she said. “And that’s why I wanted to make a case out of it and I don’t think you should be targeting Jewish people walking home from synagogue or dinner.”
Just minutes before the spitting incident, Bal Harbour Police said Starikov targeted a Jewish couple also wearing religious clothing.
He’s accused of yelling profane things at them and saying, “You Jews. I’m gonna get you,” and then “clenching his fists and banging them together as if he was getting ready to fight or attack them.” The police reports say no one was physically harmed.
Bal Harbour Mayor Gabe Groisman said detectives tracked down surveillance video from buildings along Collins Avenue in Bal Harbor and neighboring Sunny Isles Beach to track Starikov’s moments after the attacks and then confronted Starikov as he ran in the area on another day.
The mayor said that solid police work led to Starikov turning himself in on Wednesday.
“It’s really a story of incredible police work,” Groisman said. “They’re gonna keep working the case and working the case until they find anyone who’s out here trying to cause harm to any resident in Bal Harbour.”
For the victims, they hope Starikov’s arrest sends a message.
“Those are always ignorant people and hateful people and my instinct is to make sure they know they’re not gonna get away with that kind of behavior,” the victim said.
Groisman said he’s spoken with Miami Dade’s State Attorney about whether this case can be upgraded to include a hate crimes charge.