N. New Hyde Park civic activist recovers after Manhattan mugging

Noah Manskar

A North New Hyde Park civic activist is recovering this week after four men viciously attacked him in Manhattan.

Michael O’Donald, the former president of the Lakeville Estates Civic Association, said the men jumped him as he was walking on West 28th Street around 12:30 a.m. on June 16.

They tried to kill O’Donald, a retired NYPD detective, after finding his police identification card, he said. The attack broke his jaw in two places, knocked him unconscious for two hours and put him in the hospital for a week.

“Once they found that ID, [they thought] ‘Let’s kill a cop,’ and that’s what they did,” O’Donald, 75, said. “The good lord doesn’t want me yet.”

The NYPD confirmed O’Donald was attacked and said the Manhattan Robbery Squad is investigating.

O’Donald drove into the city late on Saturday, June 15, from his daughter’s New Hyde Park home, where he was watching her dog while she was away.

All he wanted to do was take a walk in the city — something he hadn’t done in a long time — have a drink and go home, he said. He parked his car on 28th Street between 9th and 10th avenues and started walking west.

O’Donald was watching the four men carefully when he first saw them, he said, but they jumped on him as he walked by.

The men emptied his pockets of cash, car keys, his NYPD card and other identification, O’Donald said. They also took his high school class ring.

In addition to breaking his jaw, the men knocked out three of O’Donald’s teeth and left him covered in bruises, he said. He lay unconscious on the street until 2:40 a.m., he said, when he woke up and got help.

An ambulance took O’Donald across town to Bellevue Hospital, where he eventually had surgery to repair his jaw. He was released on Sunday.

O’Donald said he saw one of his attackers come into the hospital on a stretcher at one point during his stay. The man jumped off the stretcher and tried to attack O’Donald again, he said.

That incident, and another threatening phone call he received, left him shaken, he said — he couldn’t sleep for two days and had an NYPD officer stay with him in the hospital.

“They’re gutsy, they’re ballsy, to come into a hospital and try to kill somebody,” O’Donald said.

A Bellevue Hospital spokeswoman declined to comment, citing “patient privacy laws.”

O’Donald, a longtime North New Hyde Park resident, is known for his dedication and sometimes brash approach to local issues.

He has been active in local civic affairs for about the past 10 years, said Marianna Wohlgemuth, who preceded O’Donald as the Lakeville Estates Civic Association president.

O’Donald retired from the NYPD in 1982 after more than 17 years on the force in the 79th Precinct, in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.

O’Donald is a regular attendee of North Hempstead Town Board meetings and local school board meetings. He’s known for taking long walks around the North New Hyde Park hamlet and reporting problems to town officials, Wohlgemuth said.

“He definitely was a neighborhood watcher,” Wohlgemuth said.

O’Donald said he feels “so sore and weak” after his stay in the hospital, but he knows he was supposed to survive.

“God didn’t want me yet,” he said.

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