Police on Wednesday arrested a jogger accused of spitting on an elderly Jewish couple and threatening to sexually assault another group of Jews while running along Collins Avenue in Bal Harbour in March.
Daniel Valerivich Starikov, a 33-year-old Hollywood resident originally from Britain, confronted the Jewish residents on Friday, March 22, as they were walking home from temple, Bal Harbour Police said.
Starikov approached the first group at 11 p.m. as they spoke with each other in the 9600 block of Collins Avenue, clenching his fists and banging them together as if readying for a fight, according to a police report.
“I’ll show you,” he told the group, according to the report. “I’m going to shove my d--- down your throats. You Jews, I’m gonna get you.”
About five minutes later, as the group fled to a nearby condominium, Starikov confronted another group of Jews in the 9900 block of Collins Avenue, police said. He spat on two elderly members of the group after making a noise with his mouth that sounded like “blowing a raspberry,” according to the report.
Both groups told police they felt Starikov targeted them because of their faith. The incidents occurred during Sabbath. Most of the men wore yarmulkes, and one other was dressed in a black coat and wide-brimmed hat that is customary attire for Hasidic Jews.
After tapping into surveillance cameras located between Bal Harbour and Sunny Isles Beach, Bal Harbour Police arrested Starikov Wednesday on two charges of battery on persons 65 years or older and three charges of assault while evidencing prejudice.
He was booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on Wednesday. He had previously been held at the jail following an arrest on charges of battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence. He was released in March pending trial.
Bal Harbour Mayor Gabriel Groisman said the community felt grateful to police for investing nearly two months of investigative work to capture the suspect.
“It gives everyone a sense of security and confidence that our police department is doing a good job of protecting us,” he said in an interview.
He said the village’s Jewish residents are “not easily shaken” and that the incident “only serves to strengthen the community further.”
Though the village, which has less than 3,000 residents, now has a thriving Jewish community, it also has a past history of anti-Semitism and racism. For 36 years, the exclusive Bal Harbour Club barred Jews and blacks from joining the club through deed restrictions. That practice came to an end in 1982 after the club was hit with a $10 million discrimination lawsuit.
Groisman said a 2017 anti-Semitism ordinance passed by the Village Council expanded the police department’s ability to investigate incidents of anti-Jewish acts as hate crimes. The ordinance, which codified the definition of anti-Semitism, allowed officers to investigate anti-Semitic acts as violations of village law when considering if they violate state or federal law.
Groisman said the village has been in contact with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office to determine if the incident qualifies as a hate crime under state law.
“That was the impetus for this investigation,” he said. “It’s the first time that they really utilized those procedures.”