Every month since 2014, Borough President Eric Adams has honored residents that distinguish themselves, and last week he honored two karate instructors, a high school student, and an NYPD detective.
“Fighting crime together is the theme of this batch of heroes,” said Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna. “These four Brooklynites exemplify what it means to go above and beyond in our ongoing pursuit for public safety.”
On October 17, Luis Ruiz and his stepson Antonio Piña, a pair of East Williamsburg karate instructors, were on their way home when they heard the cries of a woman coming from behind a van.
When the two approached, they observed a man violently shaking a woman covered in blood. After noticing Piña and Ruiz, he quickly fled.
Piña, who served as an auxiliary police officer at the 90th Precinct, contacted the cops and followed the man until officers arrived on the scene and placed the suspect under arrest.
For 27-year-old Miriam Braverman, Ruiz and Piña were lifesavers that day.
“There’s a saying in Judaism that if you save one life, it’s as if you saved the entire world,” she said. “It never made any sense until this happened. Everything that I do from that time until the end of my life is because you stayed with me and you helped me.”
The second honoree was 17-year-old Midwood High School senior Ahmed Khalifa, who is actually a student at Ruiz and Piña's karate school.
“They're teaching more than a few kicks and throwing punches,” Adams said. “They're teaching character and discipline.”
On December 27, Khalifa was on a Coney-Island bound Q train near Newkirk Station after working a shift at the central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library when he saw a man hit an Orthodox Jewish woman who was quietly reading a book.
The victim suffered a split lip and briefly lost consciousness. Khalifa told the conductor to call for help and followed her attacker. On the street, an Orthodox Jewish man and members of the nearby Flathbush Shomrim helped Khalifa, and they spotted the man trying to flee on a bus.
When police arrived, they stopped the bus and apprehend the attacker.
“I just did something everyone should do,” Khalifa said.
The final honoree was Detective Steven Franzel, the lead investigator on Operation Rose Garden, which led to the arrests of 41 individuals, including members of the Crips.
The large-scale bust took ten guns off the street, along with one kilogram of cocaine, five pounds of marijuana, a large quantity of heroin and 50 forged credit cards. The arrests happened just before Labor Day as an effort to make the street safer heading into the holiday weekend.
“One of the most difficult assignments you can have in the NYPD is a bust like this,” said Adams, a retired NYPD captain. “Undercover investigators are out there up against some of the most violent people in the city, and they do it every day without any form of recognition.”
Deputy Inspector Michael Cody echoed Adams' sentiments, lauding the officers for their work under the direction of Franzel.
“The work is very hazardous, but Detective Franzel and his team put in long hours,” he said. “Obviously the results went very well for the citizens of Brooklyn. It’s just something they do every day.”