• August 23, 2019
  • Welcome!
    Logout|My Dashboard

Queens Chronicle

Leaders condemn attack on Queens swami

Leader of Shiv Shakti Peeth Temple in Floral Park was savagely beaten

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:57 pm, Thu Aug 1, 2019.

The crime shocked and outraged his community.

But Swami Ji Harish Chander Puri of the Shiv Shakti Peeth Temple in Floral Park has already forgiven the man who viciously beat him last Thursday morning. Sergio Gouveia allegedly attacked the priest for walking in his neighborhood, police said.

“The world is one big family,” Puri said at a press conference outside the Hillside Avenue temple on Tuesday.

The attack happened two blocks away from the house of worship. He was punched in the body and face and beaten with an umbrella, with his head, chest and nose being lacerated, according to the criminal complaint for his alleged assailant. Puri was treated for his injuries at a nearby hospital.

Gouveia, 52, who lives nearby on Holland Avenue in New Hyde Park, LI, faces the charges of third-degree assault, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and second-degree harassment. He was released on his own recognizance last Friday, according to state court records.

Gouveia’s Legal Aid attorney did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Nassau County man hasn’t been charged with a hate crime, though Gov. Cuomo on Tuesday directed the state Hate Crimes Task Force to assist the NYPD in its investigation of the case.

Multiple speakers at the event said they saw bias as a potential motive.

“It’s clear to me that this should be treated as a hate crime,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James, calling the attacker a “sick person” who needed to be held fully accountable. State Sen. John Liu (D-Bayside), Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) and others at the event also said they believe it was a bias-driven crime.

“I’ve been around too long to believe that these kinds of attacks are any kind of act of random violence,” Liu said.

Puri’s compassion moved the many speakers who stood by his side at the event.

“I don’t know if I could do that,” James said of the swami’s decision to forgive his attacker. “God is still working on me.”

In reference to the Floral Park attack, some of the speakers brought up racist and hateful comments made by President Trump.

“We have language coming from 1600 Pennsylvania [Ave.] telling folks to go back home,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens, Nassau).

“Hate has no place in our community,” Assemblyman Clyde Vanel (D-Queens Village) said.

Many of the speakers pointed to how Queens is considered one of the most diverse places in the world.

“An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us,” Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) said.

More about

Welcome to the discussion.