2 J'lem teens suspected of killing man over cigarette

Police believe youths, aged 13 and 15, were drunk when they hit US citizen over the head with a wooden plank.

kikar hahatulot beating 311 (photo credit: YouTube)
kikar hahatulot beating 311
(photo credit: YouTube)
An American-born man who had been living in Israel for a decade was beaten to death last week by two Arab teenagers from north Jerusalem for refusing to give them a cigarette, police announced on Tuesday, following the lifting of a court-imposed media gag order on the investigation.
The teens were arrested on Thursday following an undercover investigation, and were formally charged with manslaughter on Tuesday in Jerusalem District Court.
The victim, Lance Wolf, 60, was sitting in Jerusalem’s Kikar Hahatulot on Rehov Hillel early on Wednesday morning when he was approached by two teenagers, aged 14 and 15, and was asked to hand over a cigarette.
The teenagers were drunk, having been drinking from a bottle of vodka that was purchased for them at a kiosk by an adult earlier in the evening.
Wolf refused the request, and asked the youths to leave him alone.
“The two backed away from him, picked up a wooden plank, came back, struck him [on the head], and fled,” Jerusalem Police said.
Wolf lay bleeding on the ground for at least half an hour, as numerous passers-by failed to provide him with assistance, according to a number of reports. Emergency services were eventually called to the scene by a passer- by.
An ambulance evacuated Wolf to the Hadassah-University Hospital at Ein Kerem, where he was admitted in critical condition.
Doctors were unable to stabilize him and he was declared brain dead. On Saturday, Wolf died of his injuries. He was buried on Sunday.
Jerusalem Police district head Cmdr.
Aharon Franco ordered a special investigative team to be assembled at the Lev Habira police station to track down the assailants.
Eyewitness testimonies were gathered, and police obtained CCTV footage from the square which shows a youth smashing Wolf on the head with the plank. Wolf is seen falling to the ground as the youths flee.
“Intelligence and testimonies led us to the attackers in north Jerusalem,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
At first, the suspects denied the allegations, but they later confessed, police said.
“He talked back rudely to me when I asked him for a cigarette,” one of the suspects told police, when asked to explain why he attacked Wolf.
The Seattle-born Wolf arrived in Israel 10 years ago after traveling in Europe for a few years. He had a family history of alcoholism, and struggled with the disease for decades. He was married twice in the US, and had two sons and a daughter. Wolf was estranged from his sons but maintained sporadic e-mail contact with his daughter.
He also had three grandchildren.
“When he was sober he was quite a nice man and very sensitive and caring,” said his close friend Natan Taig, the owner of the Kaplan Hotel at Kikar Zion, where Wolf lived for a year. “He was not an angel, he could be unfair.”
Haj Ibrahim, the owner of a guest house on the Mount of Olives, told Ynet that Wolf “loved religion very much, but not the religious.”
Ibrahim said Wolf had attached the Palestinian flag to his clothes and had worn a keffiyeh on occasion. He claimed that Wolf did not learn any Hebrew during his time here.
After years of avoiding computers, Wolf taught himself programming and HTML in Europe. Taig noted that Wolf often lived for free in hostels, whose Web sites he would update in exchange. He also gave private computer lessons, his friends remembered.
His friends among the Anglo community that spend time on Jerusalem’s downtown streets were shocked by the news of his death, saying that they usually felt safe on the streets at night, but added that they were not surprised that the incident occurred in that area.
Wolf’s friend said he was also attacked in the same area about a year ago. He lost most of his teeth and his jaw was badly broken.
“There are big cliques, bad kids from all over the country that come and hit the bars, and these kids just drink so much,” said one man who asked not to be named.
Others shared stories of attacks by groups of youth in the area.
Kikar Hahatulot (Cat Square), near Kikar Zion at the end of a street filled with bars, has been a trouble spot for years.
“The police don’t care. Every Thursday and Saturday night there are dozens of kids vomiting and pissing all over the area,” said Taig.
“Only when someone gets killed, maybe they’ll do something small for a little while.”
Taig and others point to a lack of police presence that allows the kids to run wild, inviting disaster.
“After 8 p.m., you won’t see any police making rounds here,” said Nuri Yadegaran, who owns a gift store in the area. “The police could come clean up this whole area, but they don’t care… They need to be here between 2 and 4 a.m. Tell Nir Barkat to come here by himself at 3 a.m. and see what he thinks.”
He said that the informal nighttime market in the plaza, with people selling cheap jewelry and water pipes, just invites problems.
“They harass young girls, and the hookah brings harder drugs,” he said.
The US Embassy said it could not provide details about Wolf due to privacy laws.