Man, 72, arrested for pushing 86-year-old out of elevator saying he did it to protect against virus

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Man, 72, arrested for pushing 86-year-old out of elevator saying he did it to protect against virus

A 72-year-old man has been arrested for pushing an 86-year-old out of an elevator in their Miami Beach complex, saying he did it to protect him and

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A 72-year-old man has been arrested for pushing an 86-year-old out of an elevator in their Miami Beach complex, saying he did it to protect him and his wife against COVID-19.

Nachem Gross, 72, faces charges of aggravated battery of an elderly person after surveillance footage showed him shoving Gerald Steiglitz, 86, out of an elevator in the Portofino Tower condominium.   

But Gross has defended his actions, claiming he was trying to protect himself from coronavirus in line with the building’s rules around social distancing that allow only two people in the elevators at a time.   

A 72-year-old man has been arrested for pushing an 86-year-old out of an elevator in their Miami Beach complex, saying he did it to protect him and his wife against COVID-19

A 72-year-old man has been arrested for pushing an 86-year-old out of an elevator in their Miami Beach complex, saying he did it to protect him and his wife against COVID-19

Surveillance footage of the incident, dated June 22, shows the elevator door opening and Steiglitz trying to enter. 

Gross, who is already inside with his wife, is seen holding up two fingers in what appears to be a gesture about the social distancing rules allowing only two people in the space at a time.  

Steiglitz, who like Gross is wearing a face mask, continues to make his way into the elevator and is shoved back by Gross. 

Steiglitz is seen falling backwards off camera and Gross then steps out the lift after him.

The alleged victim said he still had a bruise on his upper thigh several days after the incident.   

He told NBC Miami the two men had been friendly to each other prior to the altercation.  

Nachem Gross, 72, (bottom right) faces charges of aggravated battery of an elderly person after surveillance footage showed him shoving Gerald Steiglitz, 86, (top right) out of an elevator in the Portofino Tower condominium. Gross is seen is seen holding up two fingers in what appears to be a gesture about social distancing rules allowing only two people in the space at a time

Nachem Gross, 72, (bottom right) faces charges of aggravated battery of an elderly person after surveillance footage showed him shoving Gerald Steiglitz, 86, (top right) out of an elevator in the Portofino Tower condominium. Gross is seen is seen holding up two fingers in what appears to be a gesture about social distancing rules allowing only two people in the space at a time

Steiglitz, who like Gross is wearing a face mask, continues to make his way into the elevator and is shoved back by Gross

Steiglitz, who like Gross is wearing a face mask, continues to make his way into the elevator and is shoved back by Gross

‘I saw him before in the building, in the swimming pool and the elevators. We always were friendly, hello, and that was it. But he could have said to me, ‘go down, take the next one,’ said Steiglitz. 

‘He just pushed me out. I’m not looking for financial reward. I’m not looking for anything.’  

Gross turned himself in to Miami Beach Police at around 9a.m. Thursday to face the charges brought against him. 

Footage from NBC Miami shows the elderly man arriving at Miami-Dade Corrections Center in the back of a police cruiser where he was booked. 

He has since posted bond and was released.  

Gross’s defense attorney Michael Grieco is calling for the charges against him to be dropped, saying it was a ‘stand your ground’ case where the elderly man was protecting himself and his wife from the risks of contracting coronavirus. 

Grieco said the condo association where the two men live had recently ordered that no more than two people can ride the elevator at a time to limit the spread of the deadly virus. 

Footage from NBC Miami shows Gross arriving at Miami-Dade Corrections Center in the back of a police cruiser where he was booked

Footage from NBC Miami shows Gross arriving at Miami-Dade Corrections Center in the back of a police cruiser where he was booked

The Portofino Tower condominium where the altercation took place. Gross has defended his actions, claiming he was trying to protect himself from coronavirus in line with the building's rules around social distancing that allow only two people in the elevators at a time

The Portofino Tower condominium where the altercation took place. Gross has defended his actions, claiming he was trying to protect himself from coronavirus in line with the building’s rules around social distancing that allow only two people in the elevators at a time

Miami-Dade County does not have any specific emergency orders around the number of people who can occupy elevators at one time and has left it up to individual facilities to set rules. 

Grieco also said both Gross and his wife have pre-existing health conditions which make them especially vulnerable to the virus. 

‘Law enforcement made a huge mistake today by arresting someone for essentially protecting himself. In this world of COVID, every human being right now is a loaded weapon,’ Grieco told NBC Miami. 

Gross’s attorney also blasted law enforcement for bringing the elderly man into a jail – environments which are known to be hotbeds for COVID-19 due to their cramped conditions.

‘The decision to arrest Mr. Gross is ridiculous. It’s absolutely a ridiculous decision to make,’ said Grieco. 

‘They decide to put handcuffs on a 72-year-old man who’s already got health risks, and put him in the Miami-Dade jail. It is a terrible decision. It’s beyond bad optics. What happens if my client gets sick?’ 

Fears are mounting that Florida is on track to become the new virus epicenter as daily infections have surged to record high levels in recent weeks. 

The state’s health department on Thursday recorded 10,109 daily cases – marking yet another single-day record and pushing it’s total confirmed cases to 169,106.

Miami-Dade County also reported another 2,304 cases, taking its total to 40,265 – the highest tally of any county in the state.  

Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced he is mandating a countywide curfew starting Friday in desperate efforts to slow the burgeoning outbreak.

The curfew will run from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and will go on indefinitely. 

Gimenez also expanded the order on face masks in public, mandating that people must now wear them outdoors even if social distancing can be maintained.  

Coronavirus cases are surging across the US with a record 52,000 new COVID-19 being reported in the last 24 hours alone, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.  

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