Atlantic City, NJ councilman says he was beaten in ambush over drug vote
ATLANTIC CITY — A councilman who was assaulted in a parking lot Thursday night, leaving him hospitalized with serious injuries, says the assault was in retaliation for his vote against keeping the city's needle-exchange program.
Speaking to reporters from his hospital room on Sunday, 4th Ward Councilman Hossain Morshed, 47, said he was assaulted near the intersection of Florida and Atlantic avenues around 10:45 p.m. after leaving a mosque.
Morshed said he was blocked by a car from leaving the parking lot.
When Morshed said got out of his car, he was confronted by several men and women carrying guns. One of the attackers spoke to him, he said.
"He said don't go against the drug business. His second sentence was don't go against needle exchange and his third sentence was don't go with Sarkos," Morshed said.
Atlantic City Deputy Police Chief James Sarkos is serving as the interim officer in charge of the department.
"This is the message for Atlantic City. This is the message for Atlantic City police," Morshed said an attacker told him.
Morshed, who voted against keeping the program, said he told the man it was not the right time to talk about the issue and tried to show his City Hall identification. The response was a barrage of profane language and violence, according to the Morshed. He pointed to his left cheek bone to show where the first punch landed.
"Then they hit my left eyes, my nose was broken and at least a minimum of five, maximum seven times he hit me and I fell down," he said. "I pulled my body behind my van but couldn't. Then the lady and the Black men kicked me as hard as they can."
The councilman said the assault left him with blood coming from his nose and ears. He said he heard a trigger being pulled and feared he was going to be shot.
Morshed said he tried to get back in the van but passed out. He woke up in AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center. He told the Press of Atlantic City he is having surgery Monday for broken bones.
Atlantic City police are investigating the assault.
The council voted 7-2 on June 16 to end the needle program with a final vote scheduled for Wednesday.
The decision to end the needle exchange program in Atlantic City has been a controversial one. The South Jersey AIDS Alliance, which has provided syringe access since 2007, was hoping to find a new location to continue.
According to Harney, there was solid progress made toward relocating the needle exchange from a tourism area on Tennessee Avenue to a spot near the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, but that move was scratched "at the very last moments."
When the City Council introduced the ordinance to get rid of the needle exchange program, according to The Press of Atlantic City, council members voiced concerns about individuals traveling from other towns to use the social service.
Previous reporting by Dino Flammia was used in this report.