Suspect caught on video hurling rocks at New York synagogues

Police search for suspect who hurled rocks, smashed windows and doors at two Bronx synagogues.

By Algemeiner Staff

New York police were still searching Saturday for a suspect caught on security footage throwing rocks at the glass doors and windows of two Bronx synagogues, including one that was previously the target of a foiled 2009 bomb plot.

A man was taped throwing multiple rocks at Riverdale Jewish Center (RJC) late on Thursday. Security footage revealed that he had already approached the building on Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re just doing what we can to work with law enforcement, and to ensure that the shul is safely protected and that those responsible for the crimes against our shul and community are properly investigated,” said Oren Hiller, RJC executive director, to The Algemeiner.

A second, similar incident was also reported Friday at Chabad of Riverdale, situated half a mile away. “They threw two rocks at two windows,” said Rabbi Levi Shemtov, who heads the congregation. “They broke the windows, and the glass and the rocks are all over.”

A police spokesperson told The Algemeiner on Saturday that both attacks have been deemed possible bias incidents, with the Hate Crime Task Force investigating.

“Unfortunately, these incidents continue to occur, and too often go unreported to law enforcement and the media. It is critical that synagogues and other Jewish institutions properly report these incidents to ensure they are adequately addressed,” said Joshua Gleis, president of Gleis Security Consulting, a security firm that specializes in protecting synagogues and works with houses of worship around the country, including the Riverdale Jewish Center.

Gleis added, “The threat to Jewish institutions is real, and synagogues must prioritize the target hardening of their exterior doors and ground floor windows to help mitigate their risk.”

In May 2009, four men were arrested over a plot to bomb the Riverdale Jewish Center and the nearby Riverdale Temple. As part of an FBI sting operation, the men planted what they believed to be bombs in cars outside the synagogues, with plans to then shoot down military aircraft at an Air National Guard base in New York.