Father and son relive machete attack in Brooklyn

Ralph and Issac Marrero embrace.
Photo by Dean Moses

A father and son relived their encounter with the machete-wielding maniac who attacked Darlene Duda and her dog Honey in Brooklyn on Dec. 29th.   

Ralph Marrero and his son Isaac Marrero have lived in Brownsville for the better part of half a decade, during which time the 11-year-old boy has become something of a local celebrity known as the “calisthenic kid.” There are two sides to Isaac Marrero, one half consists of the fun-loving little boy who adores old Godzilla films and playing with toy trucks, while the other is a taekwondo and calisthenic champion who has amassed a vast collection of medals and trophies that adorn the family living room. The audible ting and clang of metal could be heard as Isaac excitedly showcased his extensive assortment of awards to amNewYork Metro during an interview on New Year’s Eve. Despite overcoming a variety of challenges throughout years of competitive matches, the greatest test of his young life came during a deadly encounter on Dec. 29th while training for the Olympics.

With the advent of the COVID-19 virus, Isaac undertakes the majority of his workouts indoors, however, on some occasions his father accompanies him to Betsy Head Park where the young athlete participates in cardio conditioning activities. The pair have performed this exercise routine hundreds of times before, yet that Tuesday evening would be very different than any before it.  

Isaac Marrero shows off his trophy collection. Photo by Dean Moses

As his son ran laps around the park, Ralph was distracted by the sound of cars skidding. Exiting the park, he saw a man lying in the road on Strauss Street and Dumont Avenue. Believing this individual to be a victim of a hit and run, Ralph instantly dialed 911. Unfortunately, this is when the true nature of the situation became apparent. The man leapt up and began attacking passing vehicles with a machete, seconds later locking eyes with Ralph from across the street.

“When he ran out of cars to attack, he looked at me, right in my face from about 15-feet of distance. Then he saw the lady walking her dog and made a decision. I was on the phone with the operator when he attacked the woman, at that point I am thinking I’m next. He was after somebody, anybody. I just see him swinging at her. I could just hear the blade hitting her, she couldn’t even scream anymore.”

The commotion stopped Isaac in his tracks, freezing him in place. The young boy could not truly comprehend what he was seeing and hearing.    

“I did about three laps when I heard my dad yelling ‘Stop killing that lady!’ I thought they were shooting a movie, it reminded me of Michael Myers. I realized it was real when he stuck the dog, because the only thing you saw was the handle. I ran to my dad—he was already on the phone with the police—my instinct was to protect my dad,” Isaac said, relieving the bloody moment that 18-year-old Samuel Lazaro began hacking away at a passing woman and her pet dog with a 2-foot rusty machete.

Community Affairs Officer Judith Harrison holds up a picture of the machete involved in the police involved shooting. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Despite the crippling horror, Isaac refused to flee the scene, instead sticking by his father’s side throughout the incident, no matter the consequences. Ralph—a single father—is no stranger to violence and tragedy. The Harlem native has been shot multiple times and has undergone triple bypass surgery, leaving him unable to run from the macabre confrontation. Thankfully, NYPD officers arrived within several minutes of the call, but the situation was not immediately clear.

“They didn’t know where he was. I said keep going, he is about four cars up between two cars. I said there is a killer right there chopping up a woman. When he [Lazaro] heard me, he stood up to go meet the cops. For the first time in my life, I asked the cops to kill somebody,” Ralph said, his voice wavering with sorrow.

After Ralph’s desperate pleas and the suspect’s refusal to drop his weapon, the responding officers killed the assailant with a single gunshot to the chest as both the father and son looked on.

“His eyes were black, he looked like he had no soul… like he was possessed,” Isaac said.

Following the incident, NYPD officers informed Ralph that Darlene and her dog would survive the attack thanks to his swift actions. Although he was pleased to have made a difference that December night, he was also deeply disturbed that his son witnessed the horrendous attack, along with the death of another human being since the boy refused to leave his side. In order to honor the young man’s bravery for standing beside his dad throughout such a traumatic experience, Officer Wright from the 73rd Precinct visited the Marrero home the following night, presenting Isaac with rollerblades as a gift.

Officer Wright gifts Isaac Marrero a pair of roller blades for his bravery. Photo courtesy Ralph Marrero

“I was surprised but mainly I was just so happy to know the officers care. It made me aware not to hate cops,” Isaac said, expressing gratitude.

After Darlene and her pet recovers, the Marrero’s one day hope to meet her again after sharing what most could scarcely imagine. In the meantime, they will strive to move forward, although they admit it will be no easy task. Isaac plans to continue devoting himself to his athletic ambitions while Ralph is simply happy he will get to see his son grow and continue to follow his dream.

“The same way Godzilla feeds off nuclear radiation, I feed off of the sport,” Isaac said, showing a smile.

Isaac Marrero adores his gift. Photo by Dean Moses