Miami Beach

Man arrested in attack on three elderly men at kosher Dunkin’ Donuts on Miami Beach

Leroy Jennings booking photo on Dec. 13, 2018.
Leroy Jennings booking photo on Dec. 13, 2018. Miami-Dade Corrections

A morning routine — coffee and conversation among three elderly pals at a Miami Beach Dunkin’ Donuts — turned into a trip to medical centers for two of the three men and the capture of a sexual offender from New York who police say sent the men there.

According to Miami Beach police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez, Leroy Jennings walked into the kosher Dunkin’ Donuts at 341 41st St. at about 5:25 a.m. Thursday and took a seat in the eastern part of the chain’s eating area.

Jennings, 32, whose arrest report lists him as homeless, walked over to where Michael Lefkowitz, 67, and Paul Goldstein, 78, were sitting, having their morning coffee, alongside Jack Levine, 68, who was standing near his friends.

“Without provocation,” Jennings “walked over to Lefkowitz and asked him if he was talking about some rape case. The victim said, ‘no’ and [Jennings] immediately struck him in the face with a closed fist, breaking his glasses and causing great pain,” the affidavit said.

In the ensuing struggle, Goldstein was knocked to the ground and into some tables.

When Levine saw the attack he threw his coffee at Jennings and then threw a chair at him. “He feared the much younger attacker was going to continue his assault on the elderly defenseless victims,” the arrest report said.

Jennings tried to run out of the Dunkin’ Donuts, police said, but Levine grabbed him and tried to hold him. Jennings broke free of Levine’s grasp when the hood portion of his sweat jacket tore away.

Jennings fled west on 41st Street, was spotted by K9 officer Alejandro Llaneras near a public garage in the 4100 block of Royal Palm Avenue, and took off running again when Llaneras identified himself as an officer. Jennings was eventually captured when Rocky, Llaneras’ police dog, found him hiding on a roof at 546 41st St.

Officers climbed onto the roof and made the arrest.

Rodriguez said, “There is no indication at this time that this crime was hate-driven.”

Goldstein was taken to Mount Sinai by Miami Beach Fire Rescue. Lefkowitz was treated at Dunkin’ but his wife took him to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute because of his eye injuries. Levine had some abrasions but did not need medical attention, according to police.

Lefkowitz told Miami Herald news partner CBS4 that the attack won’t stop him from enjoying his daily morning coffee routine with Goldstein and Levine. “I’ll be back. We aren’t going to be deterred from doing what we do every day in our lives.”

During Jennings’ police interview a criminal history revealed he was convicted of a sexual offense in New York, and this was confirmed by the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services, according to a second arrest report.

Jennings was charged with three counts of battery on a person 65 years of age or older, resisting arrest without violence, and a felony charge of failing to register as a sexual offender, which carried an additional $500 bond. Bond on the battery charge is $5,000, and bond on the resisting arrest charge is $1,000.

Jennings is at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.