Miami Beach man charged after pushing 86-year-old man off elevator to practice social distancing

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A man has turned himself in after injuring an elderly man in a Miami Beach elevator.

Nachum Gross, 72, has been charged after allegedly injuring a man in his 80s at the Portofino Towers, at 300 S. Pointe Drive, in Miami Beach in June.

In recently released video footage, Gross appears to have pushed the man out of an elevator in an attempt to practice social distancing.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, condominium rules now state that only two people are allowed to ride in the elevator at a time.

Surveillance video captured Gross and his wife in the elevator. At one point, the elevator door opens and Gross is seen holding up two fingers, hinting at the two-person limit, but the man, 86-year-old Gerald Steiglitz, tries to enter anyway.

Gross was accused of pushing the man backwards with his forearm, with a level of force that injured the man.

7News spoke with Michael Grieco, Gross’ attorney, about the incident.

“There was no unlawful touching,” Grieco said. “He was completely within his rights to defend himself and defend his wife.”

Steiglitz said when he tried to get on the elevator, he thought his neighbor of more than 20 years was saying “Hello.”

“He was aggressive, and he shouldn’t have been aggressive,” Steiglitz said. “I thought [him putting up the two fingers] was ‘peace.’ I didn’t know what it meant. He pushed so hard that he came out of the elevator. ”

Just before the incident, Gross was caught on camera telling another resident she could not enter the elevator, and she complied.

Gross was charged with battery on a person 65 years or older.

“In this world of COVID, every human being is a loaded weapon, especially with the increase in cases here in Miami, so people are entitled to defend themselves,” said Michael Grieco. “This is a self-defense case through and through, and my concern is that the police department and law enforcement made a huge mistake today by arresting somebody for trying to protect himself. Ideally, he will never go to court because I don’t foresee any prosecutor who actually walks in a courtroom or any prosecutor who has ever walked in a courtroom, ever filing a case like this. This is beyond ridiculous.”

Steiglitz said he was left with a huge bruise on his leg from stumbling into a table. He also said that he wouldn’t have gone to the police had he gotten an apology from Gross.

“I was all black and blue in the backside,” Steiglitz said.

7News cameras captured the moment Gross surrendered himself to Miami Beach Police on Thursday morning. He bonded out of jail hours later.

Portofino Towers has released a statement confirming they have strict rules regarding social distancing, and they limit the elevators to only two people at a time.

“Our community’s good health during the pandemic remains our top priority,” the building’s administrators said in a statement.

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