DSCN1792While crime is generally down by ten percent in the East Village this year, there’s been a 21 percent increase in felony assault with strangers, NYPD Deputy Inspector Peter J. Venice revealed at a community meeting last night. The Ninth Precinct’s new commanding officer said the brutal May 9 beating of Wen Hui Ruan was a particularly “nasty” example of the trend. But it was also “an isolated incident where one individual went too far,” Venice insisted.

“It was a really brutal crime and we had extra patrols out in that area following that incident,” Venice said. He noted that the alleged perpetrator, 20-year-old Jamie Pugh, was arrested within days after Ruan was attacked in an apparent robbery attempt on East Sixth Street, a block from his home on Avenue C.

“Unfortunately, it was a 68-year-old man. Maybe a 20-year-old man could have handled that,” Venice said of the attack, caught on surveillance tape showing a single perpetrator hurling Ruan against a wall, beating him and kicking him. “But a 68-year-old man couldn’t take that.” Ruan died the next day from his injuries.

Pugh, who lived on East Sixth Street near Avenue D, has been charged with second degree murder, attempted robbery and assault. An elderly man at the meeting asked why Pough, a repeat offender, was out on the streets.

“We locked him up,” replied Venice. “He has had many priors and he’s been arrested. What I’d like to say is that the detective squad worked very well with the homicide squad. Within two to three days, we had this person IDed and apprehended.”

Venice, formerly commanding officer of the Seventh Precinct, was transferred in March, succeeding deputy inspector John Cappelmann, who took over the 103rd precinct in Queens.