(Christopher Robbins) The victim in the possibly racially-motivated attack in Union Square last Wednesday has died. Jeffrey Babbitt, 62, died yesterday morning at Bellevue Hospital after being declared brain dead over the weekend. "He was just a really, really, really sweet guy," Jeff Ayers, the manager of Forbidden Planet comic book store told the Times.
Babbitt, a retired train conductor who lived in Sheepshead Bay with his 94-year-old mother Lucille, was a regular at Forbidden Planet, and came in the store to buy a few comic books shortly before the incident. "One of our staff just had a baby and he was dying to see pictures," Ayers said.
Police and witnesses say that Babbitt was attacked at random by 40-year-old Lashawn Martin, who allegedly screamed "I hate white people" and "The next white person who walks by, I'm going to [expletive]" before striking Babbitt in the head. Two other people who rose to defend Babbitt were also allegedly struck by Martin, who was arrested soon after the attacks.
After he was punched, Babbitt's head reportedly struck the pavement with great force, but in a photo of the scene he's seen bandaged and speaking with police.
The Medical Examiner has ruled Babbitt's death a homicide. Martin is being charged with three counts of assault, but those charges are likely to be upgraded when a grand jury convenes to hear the case later today. According to the Times, Martin has a long history of arrests for drugs and assault, and was living in a housing complex sponsored by the Jewish Board of Family for the formerly homeless and those with psychiatric issues.
The staff of Forbidden Planet is reportedly arranging a fund to ensure that Babbitt's mother is cared for.