In a jarring interruption to a day of celebration, Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry of Queens was knocked over and injured Thursday morning at the opening ceremony of the new Louis Armstrong Center in Queens by a man who ran through the crowd after exiting his car, witnesses said.
Assemblyman Aubry had just spoken at the center’s opening when the man collided with him. Mr. Aubry’s head appeared to be bleeding, they said, and he was taken away on a stretcher with his head bandaged.
Aaron Prashad, 41, an emergency medical technician, said that he had watched as a man driving a silver Honda pulled onto the curb and accelerated toward the crowd, getting close to people before going into reverse and jumping out of the car as police officers approached. The man then sprinted through the crowd, he said, as officers gave chase.
“He was definitely going to drive through,” said Mr. Prashad, who was born and raised in Queens.
Mary Claire Miskell, a publicist who works with the Armstrong Center, said she felt the man brush past her as he ran near the front of the crowd. She said Mr. Aubry was walking down from the stage, where he had just given a speech, when the man collided with him.
“They made basically full-body contact chest to chest and it knocked him over,” Ms. Miskell said.
It was not clear how serious Mr. Aubry’s injuries were: his office declined to comment on the incident. The police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The new center is across the street from the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens, where Armstrong, the jazz great, lived with his wife, Lucille, until his death in 1971. The center has an exhibit space and will be the home of the Louis Armstrong Archive, a collection of 60,000 items. It has a 75-seat theater for performances, lectures, films, and other educational experiences.
As people near the front cleared for emergency workers to help Mr. Aubry, Regina Bain, the executive director of the Louis Armstrong House Museum, urged everyone to remain calm. “If you are a praying person please pray for Jeff Aubry right now,” she said.
While several emergency medical technicians bandaged Mr. Aubry and helped him to his feet, Ms. Bain led the crowd in singing the chorus “Come by here, my Lord.”
Mr. Aubry was taken away on a stretcher, and the ceremony resumed with a speech by State Senator Jessica Ramos, who was in tears as she began her speech.
“Jeff Aubry is more than an institution — he is a treasure of this community,” she said. “So I apologize if I’m a little emotional but seeing him hurt hurts me and it hurts all of us.”
Ms. Bain, the museum’s executive director, said the assembled members of the community had tried to support Mr. Aubry — “We did that through music and we did that through prayer,” she said — while also keeping the fleeing man in their thoughts.
“We are part of the community, in all facets of it,” she said. “This building is meant to serve all of it”
Chelsia Rose Marcius contributed reporting.