The 15-year-old boy charged with smashing his bicycle on a BMW during a gang attack on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on Tuesday has denied being involved, claiming he had been buying a birthday present for his mother at the time.
Geovanni Valle, of Corona, Queens, was released from a juvenile detention center on Thursday after he was arrested and charged with criminal mischief and rioting in connection to the attack.
The boy was taken into custody after police were able to identify him from video footage showing a mob of teenagers beating up a luxury SUV while Manhattan resident, Max Torgovnick and his elderly mother were inside.
Speaking to the New York Post after his release, Geovanni insisted police had apprehended the wrong person, claiming he was not even at the scene and had been shopping at Queens Center Mall when the attack took place.
‘I wasn’t even there,’ Valle told the Post. ‘It was my mom’s birthday. I was shopping for her present, a sweater and shoes,’ he said, while showing a receipt from a Footaction store with a 3.49pm timestamp.
DailyMail.com on Thursday spoke to the teen’s father, Oscar Valle, and older brother Christian Valle, who also claimed Geovanni had been falsely accused and corroborated his claims that he had been shopping with his family.
The brother and father provided photos of the sneakers Geovanni bought for his mom at the mall as well as the decorations for her birthday celebration at their home.
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Video footage emerged on social media showing a teenage bike gang surrounding a yellow taxi on on 29th Street and Fifth Ave, just eight blocks north from where they attacked a BMW
The teens were seen holding up traffic as they tried to smash the man’s taxi, prompting the driver to get out of the vehicle and inspect the damage
At one point, one of the boys was seen hitting the man on his back with his bike
A woman says she thought she was going to be killed after a gang of teenagers surrounded her SUV and began smashing it up in New York City. The shocking incident occurred in broad daylight in the heart of Manhattan on Tuesday
‘We were trapped, there was so much violence, I thought I was going to die,’ the terrified female passenger and mother of Torgovnick reportedly said after the attack
Max Torgovnick (pictured) a 36-year-old son of a neurologist from Upper East Side, was behind the wheel when the mob of teens started leaping on the vehicle and stomping on its windshield as his elderly mother wept beside him
The family also dismissed authorities’ claims that one of the boys who was filmed at the scene smashing his bike on the car’s windshield was Geovanni, despite the striking resemblance.
Oscar denied the connection saying the boy in the footage was ‘much taller and very strong’, while his son ‘is a skinny guy.’
Geovanni also told the Post he couldn’t see a resemblance. ‘I don’t think it looks like me,’ he said.
‘It’s crazy. I know people don’t have no life, they just do stuff like that. I was watching it on Instagram. I didn’t think it was going to come back on me,’ he added.
The teen’s other brother Jonathan Valle, however, admitted that there was some likeness between the two boys, but maintained it couldn’t be his sibling because Geovanni doesn’t own a bike.
‘I feel depressed seeing my kid put in handcuffs, treated like a criminal,’ Oscar said, adding that his son is only 15.
The NYPD on Thursday confirmed police had arrested and charged Geovanni in connection to the incident and are still searching for other members of the gang.
It comes as new video emerged on social media that showed the mob of teenage boys targeting a yellow taxi moments before their attack on the BMW.
The gang was seen minutes earlier intimidating a cab driver and holding up traffic as they surrounded his vehicle just eight blocks north on 29th Street and Fifth Ave.
The teens tried to smash the man’s taxi, prompting him to get out of the vehicle and inspect the damage.
At that point, one of the teens threw his bike at the driver’s back. They then moved south down Fifth Avenue, where they carried out the attack on Torgovnick’s BMW.
Max Torgovnick, who hails from the Upper East Side, was behind the wheel when the mob started leaping on the vehicle and stomping on its windshield as his elderly mother wept beside him and screamed ‘They are going to kill us’.
The fact that the attack was carried out against random residents on a busy Manhattan street in broad daylight has left locals shaken. They say it is evidence that Big Apple officials are failing to protect them amid surging rates of violent crime.
Recently, there have been various reports of teen bicycle gangs menacing and assaulting New Yorkers at random. Police are calling the practice ‘bike outs’.
Bike outs are often organized on social media, and the large groups of teen troublemakers block off streets and fill parks, harassing pedestrians. Bike outs have typically been common in the summer, but with school closures still in effect, it appears the roving gangs are now out on the Big Apple streets more regularly.
Pictured: A still from the video of the incident which saw a group of teenagers attacking the SUV in Manhattan. Shown from two angles, one of the teenagers is seen jumping on the windshield of the car, smashing it in the centre with both feet
Another still taken from videos of the attack on the SUV. In this picture, one of the teens is seen using his bicycle to hit the front of the vehicle. The same moment is shown from two angles
On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio told CBS that the attack was ‘absolutely unacceptable’. However, he offered no plans as to how to ensure similar attacks do not occur again in the future.
Tuesday’s incident occurred while Torgovnick, 36, and his mother, 74, were driving across town in the BMW after dropping off a holiday donation to a local charity.
The pair encountered the large group of youngsters biking up Fifth Avenue near 21st Street who suddenly set upon their vehicle.
Speaking to the CBS New York, Torgovnick – who is the son of a neurologist – said that he feared he and his mother could be killed.
‘When he smashed the glass, at that point my biggest fear was, they’re going to get in the car, they’re going to pull me out, and I could be killed,’ Torgovnick told the network.
‘All I could hear was my mother crying and screaming. That’s what haunts me the most,’ he added, before recalling how his car was surrounded after one of the bikers crashed into the back of the car.
‘Before I knew it, my mom is crying. She’s screaming into the phone to the 911 operator, ‘Help! Send help! We are going to die. They are going to kill us,” he added.
According to eyewitnesses, the teens began blocking traffic and started to attack the luxury car.
Shocking video shows several teens punching the BMW’s windows and stomping on its hood.
One youngster can be seen jumping on top of the SUV and smashing in its front windshield.
Bystanders say there were dozens of teens on the scene, many of whom cheered as the windshield was kicked in.
The cowardly collective of youngsters quickly fled on their bicycles as pedestrians shouted at them to go home.
The car was surrounded by the group of up to 50 teenagers, according to witnesses to the attack. One of the teenagers was filmed trying to smash one of the rear windows of the car as it was surrounded by the mob
As the driver of the car tried to escape, the mob of teens continued to follow the SUV down the Manhattan street. The BMW was adorned with medical license plates, but that did nothing to deter the gang of brazen teens
Torgovnick was forced to dial 911 with police nowhere to be seen. By the time cops arrived at the scene, the teens had sped off. Pictured: The teens with their bikes block the way of the car as the driver tries to flee the attack
Torgovnick spoke to CBS New York after the incident. ‘All I could hear was my mother crying and screaming. That’s what haunts me the most,’ he said, before recalling how his car was surrounded after one of the bikers crashed into his car
Another witness said the attackers spat on the car and broke a handle as they tried to open the door and get inside.
The BMW was adorned with medical license plates, but that did nothing to deter the gang of brazen teens.
Torgovnick was forced to dial 911 with police nowhere to be seen. By the time cops arrived at the scene, the teens had sped off.
One witness said Torgovnick’s mother was ‘shaking and in tears’.
‘We were trapped, there was so much violence, I thought I was going to die,’ she reportedly said.
‘That’s something like you would see on the streets of a war zone. I never thought New York would get this bad,’ Torgovnick told The New York Post.
The startled driver now wants to know how similar attacks will be prevented in the future.
‘I’ve lived here my entire life as a New Yorker, for 36 years. I feel like I’m entitled to answers from the city as to what allowed this to happen and what they’re going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again,’ he told CBS.
Mayor de Blasio didn’t have a direct response.
‘This is something that’s just wrong, period. We gotta teach our children better all the time. It’s incumbent upon all of us, but we also have to have consequences and there will be consequences in this case,’ the Mayor said in a statement to CBS.
Another witness said the attackers spat on the car and broke a handle as they tried to open the door and get inside
Big Apple ‘bike outs’: Teenage cyclists harassing and assaulting New Yorkers
In recent years there have been various reports of teenage bicycle gangs menacing and assaulting random New Yorkers. Police have started calling the practice ‘bike outs’.
According to CBS, the large groups of teen troublemakers block off streets and fill parks before they harass and intimidate innocent pedestrians. Bike outs are most common in the summer, but with school closures still in effect, it appears the roving gangs are now out on Big Apple streets more regularly. Colder weather and the coronavirus pandemic appears to be no deterrent for the youngsters.
The news network says the events are often organized on social media. Several participants film the activity on their cell phones and share the footage on YouTube.
Last year, a 74-year-old New Yorker was left with a broken hand after he was attacked by teens who were on a bike out on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
The senior citizen says he was punched in the back and fell to the ground during the assault by a ‘swarm of cyclists’.
‘Fifteen, twenty of them that way and fifteen, twenty coming this way,’ the elderly man stated. ‘Another kid close by I felt like I was being targeted and I was gonna be hit by all those other kids.’
A few months later, hundreds of teen cyclists also stormed Times Square on a bike out, taking over the popular tourist spot and intimidating visitors.
Back in 2017, a huge bike out organized on social media was shut down by the NYPD and ended with 16 arrests.
During that incident, hundreds of youngsters reportedly blocked off the busy Bronx Expressway causing ‘complete mayhem’. The NYPD was forced to deploy a roadblock to stop the bike out as it moved down into lower Manhattan.
Mayor de Blasio told reporters at the time that bike outs are ‘not acceptable’ and he promised ‘vigorous’ NYPD enforcement.
CBS reports that the NYPD is trying to get ahead of the problem by putting bike patrol officers in parks and on streets. Some residents say that is not enough. Others, however, have criticized police for being too heavy handed on the roving groups of teen cyclists.
Several publications have taken a sympathetic tone when discussing bike outs.
Outside magazine have described bike outs as a ‘phantom threat’. Other publication say that, while the events may cause some traffic issues, most of the youngsters are not troublemakers. Some even say that the bike outs are a way for teens to ‘ distance themselves from crime and violence’ that plague their home lives’.
Meanwhile, there have also been reports of unrelated motorcycle groups causing trouble on New York City streets this year. Those gangs appear to be making the most of emptied out streets. Back in April, more than 100 motorbikes and ATVs took over Upper East Side street, blocking traffic and nearly running into pedestrians.
It comes as New York authorities struggle to combat a surge in crime.
Crime stats from the four weeks between November 30 – December 27 show violent crime is far higher than it was at the same time last year.
In the 28 days to December 27 2020 there were 21 murders – an increase of 61.5 percent when compared with the same dates in 2019.
There was also a 4.2 percent increase in rapes, and a staggering 122.4 percent surge in shootings.
Violent crime began spiking following a $1 billion cut to the NYPD’s budget which was approved this past summer following passionate protests to defund the police.
Officials have failed to take responsibility for the surge in crime, instead shifting blame.
NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told NY1 earlier this month that changes to bail laws as well as progressive policies that encourage criminal justice reform are making the city more dangerous.
‘Until we come to that realization as a society — is this what we want?’
‘It’s good to have philosophical discussions about ‘end mass incarceration’ and ‘end incarceration’ but you don’t want to do it by turning the innocent public into jails in their own apartments and houses.’
Shea’s boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio, pushed back on the commissioner’s comments.
The mayor told reporters at a City Hall meeting on December 8 that the surge in violent crime this year can be pinned on an ‘absolute perfect storm’ that hit New York this year.
‘You cannot combine a massive health crisis, tens of thousands of people dying, hospitals overwhelmed, economy is shut down, schools are shut down, houses of worship shut down, society not having its normal moorings all at once, a social justice crisis…’ the mayor said.
‘Come on, this is not like anything we have seen in our history and I believe not like anything we will see again in our lifetimes.’
De Blasio acknowledged there had been an ‘uptick in violence’ though he added that it is ‘clearly being addressed because we’re regluing the situation together again.’
Crime stats from the four weeks between November 30 – December 27 show violent crime is far higher than it was at the same time last year
NYPD’s November crime report showed violent crime up on last year
Tuesday’s violent attack on the SUV came against a backdrop of rising levels of violent crime in New York City, as reported by the NYPD in November.
Shootings in New York City continued their upward trajectory, a statement from the NYPD earlier this month said, after incidents ‘through the first eleven months of 2020 surged to levels unseen in years’.
While overall crime remained the same, the department said, there was a spike in street violence over the first eleven months of the year as the city continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
‘Gun arrests for the month of November are up +112.3% (484 v. 228), driving a +22.2% increase in citywide gun arrests (3,793 v. 3,104) compared with the same period a year ago,’ the NYPD reported on December 4.
While gun arrests are up, so too are the number of shootings in the city. In November, there was a 112.5 percent increase (115 v. 51) of people killed in shootings.
Shootings incidents rose 95.8 percent (1,412 v. 721) through the first 11 months of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.
Stats showed that ‘40% of those accused of a shooting have had a past gun possession arrest, while 21% of shooting victims have had one.’
Reporting figures on violent crime, the NYPD said homicides have also risen both for November and the year.
‘November saw 28 people murdered in the five boroughs, five more than were killed last November,’ the department said in its statement.
As of December 4, there had been a 38.4 percent increase (422 v. 305) in the number of victims murdered in New York City in 2020 compared to last year.
‘Whatever the challenge, our NYPD officers have shown innovation and determination to get the job done this year,’ NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in the statement.
‘Our work to reimagine the kind of policing New Yorkers deserve is always evolving, in line with our agency’s best traditions to reflect the needs of everyone in our city.’