Man arrested for terrorizing Jews in San Francisco synagogue

“Terror doesn’t have to involve killings… He came to terrorize people.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The San Francisco police arrested a man Friday with the aid of the FBI for allegedly invading a local synagogue two days earlier and shooting off a series of blanks, terrorizing those present.

The suspect, Dmitri Mishin, 51, is a local of Russian extraction, the police said.

One congregation member, Matthew Finkelstein, said that it was no coincidence that Mishin entered the Schneerson Jewish Center, which caters mostly to Russian Jews.

“The fact he spoke Russian is telling, like he knew where he was going,” he said.

A security camera shows a somewhat overweight man in a short black jacket and baseball cap enter a window-lined room where several people are sitting around a table and walking around. He can be seen saying something, then taking out a gun, pointing it straight ahead of him, and shooting several times around the room before calmly turning around and leaving with a half-smile and a wave of his hand.

The congregation’s junior rabbi, Alon Chanukov, called it “a terrorist attack” even though nobody got hurt and no damage was caused in the seconds-long incident.

“Terror doesn’t have to involve killings,” he told ABC News. “In my mind … he came to terrorize people.”

Chanukov had left just before the incident, but told the news channel, “I believe he said, ‘Say hello to the Mossad for me.’ And so somehow he was harming Mossad by scaring the Jews in America in this one synagogue…. I think the person is deranged.”

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The Mossad is Israel’s secret intelligence agency, akin to the American CIA.

An eyewitness who did not want to be identified said he spoke to the suspect when he entered, asked him if he spoke Russian, and when he answered in the affirmative, he invited the man to join the group.

In the video, nobody is seen reacting to the shots more than just ducking slightly, and he explained their inaction to ABC by saying simply, “We were all stunned.”

Chanukov is concerned about the safety of the Jewish school that’s “down the block” from the synagogue, which just recently found a swastika drawn on its outside wall. Although he doesn’t know if Mishin did it, he says he’s worried about “what happens if next time this person comes with a real gun or with real bullets or with a knife.”

Mishin is also suspected of walking into a movie theater the day before brandishing his weapon at employees before leaving.

The Progressive Zionists of California called for the incident to be investigated as a hate crime, quoting Mishin as saying, “Hello my Jewish friends. I want to show you something” before producing the weapon and firing it, they said in a statement.

The San Francisco police stated in a news release that Mishin was taken into custody “on suspicion of disturbing a religious assembly, brandishing an imitation firearm and causing another to refrain from engaging in a religious service.”

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They found evidence linking him to both the theater and synagogue incidents during a search of his home, they added.