NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A deadly shooting outside a Jewish school in France has prompted police to increase security in New York City.
A man opened fire, killing a rabbi and three young children in the city of Toulouse on Monday.
The killer is still at large and that has plenty of people worried — and not just in France. The NYPD stepped up its presence at centers of Jewish worship and learning in the city.
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“We obviously have to be concerned about what happens overseas. We have a significant Jewish population in the city and we have to take that into account,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
“Although there’s no specific threat against New York City that we’re aware of, we’re taking the precaution of stepping up coverage of Jewish neighborhoods and institutions in the city,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told 1010 WINS.
Police said a gunman on a motorbike opened fire just before classes started at the school in the southwest city of Toulouse.
Witnesses said the shooter was just feet away from his victims. The French prosecutor said he shot at everybody who was near him — children and adults.
“This is something that can’t be understood. How can you aim at children from a close range, and kill them?” said Israeli Deputy Ambassador to France, Sammy Ravel.
According to investigators, the gun used in the attack is the same one used to kill three soldiers of African and Caribbean descent in two separate incidents in the same area last week.
In both those shootings, the gunman escaped on a scooter.
French president Nicolas Sarkozy rushed to the school and has promised to find the killer. But so far, police have no suspects or a motive.
Even if the tragedy in France doesn’t turn out to be part of a coordinated international effort to kill Jews, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a risk of copycat killers in the United States, something Commissioner Kelly and other lawmakers said is a concern.
“There are individuals out there who hate and if they thought they could get away with it, they would do it today. There is no doubt in my mind,” Assemblyman Dov Hikind told CBS 2’s Don Dahler.
In direct response to the shooting in France, the NYPD has put 100 more patrol officers in Jewish neighborhoods and near synagogues.
“We put in additional coverage using our critical response vehicles at synagogues and Jewish locations in the city,” Kelly said.
The moves are all efforts to prevent what people grieving in France were facing Monday.
“It’s a horror. It’s a horrible thing that happened, and it’s a huge tragedy, and people have gone crazy in this world,” parent Helen Wolff told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis on Monday night.
Police in France have little to go on other than the suspect rides a scooter and uses a .45 caliber handgun.
“Just because there’s something that happens there doesn’t mean that there are more threats here, but we take everything very seriously and it’s one of the reasons why we have our police officers around the world,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
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