Police in New Jersey are investigating a snowplow driver who appears on video to intentionally spray two Orthodox Jewish men with snow and ice.
The investigation by the Lakewood Police Department was confirmed Tuesday by Mayor Raymond G. Coles.
Coles said in a statement: “I was appalled and shaken when I saw this video. Not only was it cruel but it was also incredibly stupid and dangerous. The plow could easily have thrown chunks of ice or rock and seriously injured or killed either of the victims. I am glad to know our police department is investigating all aspects of this incident.”
A company called Waste Management said in a statement Sunday that an off-duty employee posted video of the incident on a social media account and has been suspended.
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"The hateful conduct depicted in this video is unacceptable and does not reflect the values of inclusion and diversity we hold as a company," the company said. "The employee is suspended while we investigate the incident, but we can confirm that this behavior will not be tolerated from any WM employee and we will not employ those who act in this way.”
Waste Management said in a statement Tuesday that the employee in question "is no longer employed" with the company.
"While the incident did not involve a company vehicle or company equipment, the employee associated with this social media post is no longer employed with WM. The conduct of this former employee is unacceptable and not in accordance with WM’s code of conduct, commitments and values," the statement said.
"We have offered our support to local authorities who have inquired about the incident. Earlier today, WM leaders also met with leaders from the Jewish Community in northern New Jersey and New York City," it said. "We are grateful for the communication and understanding shared at the meeting. We agree that acts of hate against any community cannot be tolerated and we are committed to the safety of the Jewish Community."
NBC New York reported that the incident occurred Saturday on County Line Road near the Jackson Township border. Much of the East Coast was walloped by a powerful nor’easter that whipped up blizzard conditions throughout the region over the weekend.
Coles told NBC New York the Jewish men who were doused with snow and ice believed the driver’s actions were deliberate and are pursuing charges. Authorities were considering whether to pursue hate crimes charges, Coles said.
It was unclear, NBC New York reported, whether the person who posted the video was the driver of the snowplow. Cellphone video from inside the truck captured the incident. After the men were hit with the pile of snow, someone in the video belts out a hearty laugh, the station reported.
Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office also was not reached.
Lakewood resident Harvey Rosenthal said the actions depicted in the video were “disgusting” and intentional.
“It is very disgusting that somebody would even take a risk of trying to plow snow, besides the fact that they were targeting Jews. They could have actually hurt somebody very badly or even, God forbid, kill them,” Rosenthal told NBC New York.