Nathaniel Direnzo: Clip shows kids hurling dirt at dogs before he attacked girl
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK: Police arrested Nathaniel Direnzo, 29, after a child was attacked at a Manhattan park. Direnzo was arrested on Saturday, October 23, after a broad-daylight attack on the young girl and another minor on Wednesday afternoon, October 20. On Saturday evening, he appeared for his initial hearing with his father. He was arraigned and released on $7,500 bail that night. A video shows what led to the event.
The New York Post reported that Direnzo was charged with second-degree strangulation, two counts of acting in a manner injurious to a child, second-degree harassment, and two counts of assault. According to police, just around noon on October 20, Direnzo approached the girl and her classmates at Stuyvesant Square Park, along Second Ave between E 15th St and E 17th St in the Gramercy Park neighborhood, and began to yell at them, before spraying water on the group and trying to attack them.
When the young girl tried to fight back, cops say, Direnzo grabbed her by the hair and allegedly punched her in the face. He then allegedly “wrapped his hands around the girl’s neck,” trying to strangle her, police said. One of the girl’s classmates, a 15-year-old boy, tried to intervene once he saw the girl being attacked. Direnzo allegedly hit the boy, who was treated for minor injuries on the scene by EMS. The girl was later taken to Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital as a result of her injuries.
Per the New York Daily News, the clash began after a group of children showed up to the park around noon during school recess and started throwing dirt and party snappers over a fence into the dog run. Angry dog owners confronted the kids when an adult supervisor was unable to get the spiraling situation under control. Now, a video showing what led to the crime has been shared online.
The video was uploaded to YouTube by a user called Vigilante NYC, who wrote alongside it, “Watch entire video. While this does not excuse a physical attack on a minor, the kids in this video are not blameless.” The video shows the kids throwing dirt at the dog walkers, as Direnzo and another woman shouted at them. Direnzo can be seen getting angrier by the second.
While it was the woman who started shouting first, Direnzo soon got involved and even threatened to call 911 and report the kids. “Grip her the f**k up before I put my hands on her,” Direnzo allegedly snarled at the adult supervisor in the video. The adult supervisor seemed unable to get a grip on the situation, with one girl breaking free and throwing dirt at Direnzo. “You’re a f**king embarrassment. I can’t believe they pay you to do this,” Direnzo said in the video. “You fat little b***h. You’re not going to amount to anything in life,” Direnzo reportedly said to a minor in the video.
It was previously reported that Direnzo used to work for a non-profit that helps traumatized children — he was reportedly a volunteer board member for the Lineage Project. Its co-executive director Gabrielle Prisco said: “Nathaniel Direnzo was never an employee of the Lineage Project. He did serve as an uncompensated, volunteer board member. Mr Direnzo is no longer on our Board of Directors.”
The project's website describes its role in teaching “trauma-sensitive mindfulness to young people, ages 12 to 24, who are navigating system-involvement and other serious challenges, to support them in cultivating well-being, community bonds, and inner/collective resilience.”
Other onlookers and dog walkers were horrified by the turn of events. “'I didn't know what was going on — so, me and another guy got in the middle of it and broke it up,” dog walker Peter Ghiorse told ABC News. “I think he heard the sirens, and he booked it.” Another witness named Rachel said, “I hope they find this man. This man grabbed her by the neck, her chest, and punched her in the head. Eleven-year-old Black young girl. This is not normal. He's dangerous.”