NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Four synagogues in the Bronx were targeted in a recent vandalism spree and the acts of hate were captured on video.
On Sunday night, the NYPD‘s Hate Crimes Task Force was looking for the man behind it, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported.READ MORE: Viral Video Shows Unmasked NYPD Officer Pushing Masked Commuter Out Of Subway Station
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the NYPD has a solid lead, and there are extra police outside the impacted houses of worship, especially one that was targeted not once but twice this past week.
We are investigating: April 24th, approx. 10:45 PM, a male threw objects at windows of the Young Israel of Riverdale Synagogue, 4502 Henry Hudson Pkwy, Bronx causing glass to shatter. Info about this or several similar incidents in the area ☎️ or DM @NYPDTips 1-800-577-TIPS. pic.twitter.com/rAziYY8B1U
— NYPD Hate Crimes (@NYPDHateCrimes) April 25, 2021
Surveillance video from Saturday night shows the suspect hurl rocks several times at the windows of Young Israel of Riverdale. He is then seen kicking in one window to make sure it shatters to pieces.
It’s the same way police say he targeted three other synagogues the same night, including the conservative synagogue Adath Israel and the Chabad of Riverdale, where he also allegedly vandalized vehicles.
“He goes to the corner, grabs this big metal garbage can and there’s a car parked in front of Chabad and he throws it into the back window of that car, a mother who has a handicap license for a handicap child,” Chabad of Riverdale Rabbi Levi Shemtov said.
Police said it was the second time the suspect targeted Chabad and the nearby Riverdale Jewish Center. During the overnight hours Thursday into Friday he allegedly threw rocks at the buildings. One of the times he visited the Riverdale Jewish Center, congregants were closing up and saw him.
“He sees them. He throws a rock on the door. He throws a rock at them and starts running,” Shemtov said.
No one was hurt, but the community is shaken.READ MORE: Hip-Hop Improv Show 'Freestyle Love Supreme' Returns To Broadway
“Today, it’s a synagogue. Tomorrow, it could be houses. It could be individuals. It’s a very scary time,” said Jeff Botwinick of Riverdale.
This is appalling. We must get to the bottom of what happened immediately. And we will continue to fight anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hate in New York and across America.https://t.co/HK2KHLaDd0
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) April 25, 2021
I’m sickened by this assault on two Jewish houses of worship in the Bronx. These anti-Semitic attacks cannot be tolerated in our City, and the attacker must be brought to justice. https://t.co/w5Zl82O5pk
— Eric Adams (@ericadamsfornyc) April 25, 2021
Bronx Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez said constituents are asking, “Why this happened, if it will continue, and these are things that we don’t necessarily know, but we are vigilant.”
Back in 2009, the Riverdale Jewish Center was one of two Jewish institutions four men had plotted to bomb and the FBI arrested them.
This time, around 50 congregants from all the targeted synagogues had already been trained by the nonprofit Community Security Service on how to report hate crimes and quickly share evidence with police.
“I think this is just yet another example that antisemitism is not dead,” said Evan Bernstein, CEO and national director of Community Security Service.
“Upset, angry, frustrated and just feel bad that there are people … that they feel that they have to express their hatred to people for no reason. We’re a loving people. I reach out to people who are Jewish, who are not Jewish,” Shemtov said.
The Chabad of Riverdale rabbi said funds to repair the windows will take away from community service projects. Anyone who would like to help, please click here.MORE NEWS: Eligible New Jersey Residents Urged To Get COVID Booster Shot
Meanwhile, the NYPD said the investigation is ongoing.