A week after an “unhinged” man driving a U-Haul truck rammed through pedestrians in Brooklyn, city officials and community leaders organized a vigil on Monday night to honor and support victims and call attention to mental health.
One person died and eight others were injured in the Feb. 13 rampage, which ran through Bay Ridge Parkway and Fifth Avenue until police stopped the vehicle at Hamilton Avenue and Columbia Street. The man behind the wheel, identified as 62-year-old Weng Sor, is facing murder and attempted murder charges.
Council member Justin Brannan said the incident resulted in a lot of lives “shattered forever.”
“This may not have been a coordinated act of terrorism, but what happened a week ago, not too far from here, where we’re standing right now … truly left a trail of terror through this neighborhood that is haunting a lot of people to this day,” she said.
Said trail started after Sor — whose family claims to have mental health issues — was pulled over by police at around 10:49 a.m. Instead of cooperating, he swerved onto nearby sidewalks, striking pedestrians and cyclists.
Yijie Ye, a single father of three, was the lone victim killed in the rampage.
The 44-year-old delivery worker was riding his bike when it all happened.
“His American dream was not supposed to end on this street corner,” state Sen. Andrew Gounardes said. “The American dream of his children was not supposed to end in a nightmare on this street corner.”
Meanwhile, Mohammed Zacharia Salah Rakch, who sustained severe injuries, is out of a coma.
However, his wife, Nadjet Tchenar, said that he has a long road to recovery and that their children are struggling.
“It has been very hard, especially for the kids. They keep asking, where’s dad? When will he come back home? That really hurt,” she told reporters.
Sor’s son, Stephen, recently revealed his father’s history of mental illness.
He said about a week before the tragedy, his father — who had been living in Las Vegas for years — showed up in the middle of the night at his Brooklyn home.
“Very frequently he’ll choose to skip out on his medications and do something like this,” Stephen told AP News. “This isn’t the first time he’s been arrested. It’s not the first time he’s gone to jail. I try to just distance, as long as he leaves us alone.”
Mayor Eric Adams, who attended the vigil, called for additional mental health services.
This person was experiencing some real mental health issues that we must focus on and face to make sure our city is safe. And I’m committed to doing so. It’s not humane to allow people to exist in conditions that they are a danger to themselves and others, and we need to focus on that.
Many people might not know this, but NextShark is a small media startup that runs on no outside funding or loans, and with no paywalls or subscription fees, we rely on help from our community and readers like you.
Everything you see today is built by Asians, for Asians to help amplify our voices globally and support each other. However, we still face many difficulties in our industry because of our commitment to accessible and informational Asian news coverage.
We hope you consider making a contribution to NextShark so we can continue to provide you quality journalism that informs, educates, and inspires the Asian community. Even a $1 contribution goes a long way. Thank you for supporting NextShark and our community.