Updated 8/16: We posted a video of the car in the Park here. Updated with comment from the NYPD below.
An EVG reader described a chaotic and frightening few minutes this morning in Tompkins Square Park just before 11.
The reader was sitting in a car on Seventh Street between Avenue A and Avenue B. Inside the Park, just past the recently barricaded chess tables, a sanitation truck from the Parks Department was stopped while workers were collecting trash.
According to the reader, a man grabbed one of the shovels off the back of the truck "and started beating a woman who was sitting on the bench screaming 'don't tell me how to handle my woman.'"
Several men sitting nearby jumped to the woman's defense, chasing away the attacker. Moments later, the man entered the Park in a car — "a gray/silver sedan, maybe a Nissan" — at the entrance to Seventh Street and Avenue A, "going down different rows while everyone is diving out of the way."
Another EVG reader told us this: "He drove into the Park right in front of me across from Niagara. He was moving fast."
The first reader said the car made a few passes up and down the rows of benches and weaved around Temperance Fountain before exiting again on Seventh and A. The vehicle eventually stopped on Avenue A near St. Mark's Place. There's speculation that the car broke down.
It's not immediately clear if the man was arrested. The second EVG reader said police let the man walk away. There are no further details available at this time.
Thankfully, despite a busy Park day with the Greenmarket set up along Avenue A, there weren't any reports of injuries. (We don't know the condition of the woman who was hit with the shovel. Witnesses said an ambulance was in the Park.)
"I have no idea how no one was hurt, but it seems like everyone was OK," the first reader said.
Updated 6 p.m.
Writer Jeremiah Moss has an account of the incident on Instagram. He wrote in part:
Updated 8/15, 12:06 a.m.
I was walking in Tompkins Square this morning when a man drove his car through the park, narrowly missing people, going after the men who'd just beat him up. People fled. Witnesses said the man got beat up because he was beating a woman with a shovel, so hard the shovel head broke off the handle. Other witnesses said he beat the woman with the shovel because she stole from him. The cops talked to the man, and when they didn't arrest him, witnesses were outraged. One man on a bike, who'd nearly been run over, went to the man with the car and got an apology from him — they shook hands and made up. "That's the code," said the man on the bike, meaning the code of the street.
From a reader... the car that witnesses said was used to drive through the Park was still parked on Avenue A last night...According to @HowsMyDrivingNY, the Pennsylvania plate has a total of 10 parking and camera violation tickets — all issued in the Bronx in 2020 — that resulted in $1,264.03 in fines.
2 | Bus Lane Violation 1 | Blocking Crosswalk
1 | School Zone Speed Camera Violation
1 | Front Or Back Plate Missing
1 | No Standing - Day/Time Limits
1 | No Parking - Day/Time Limits
1 | No Parking - Street Cleaning
1 | No Standing - Bus Stop
1 | Double Parking
Updated 8/16 8 p.m.
EVG contributor Stacie Joy asked a source at the 9th Precinct for a comment on what happened in Tompkins Square Park on Sunday morning.
"The event in the Park was a result of a dispute between the car owner, who was with his female friend, and another group of men who robbed the car owner. The car owner tried to get back his belongings from the robbers but he was jumped ... The robbers chased him with a shovel and in the process, he got into the car to run away from them. He proceeded to drive into the Park — not knowing it is a Park because he is not from the neighborhood," the source said. "So far the owner of the car and his girlfriend were the victim of a crime and the complaint is still being worked on by the detectives. So there is still an ongoing investigation."
The current NYPD storyline is at odds with what multiple residents said they saw transpire. According to several witnesses, the driver of the car allegedly hit his girlfriend with a shovel before a group of men intervened. Witnesses said they also have seen the man in the Park on several occasions.