Police say the alleged suspect in the Buffalo mass shooting that left 10 people dead wrote a manifesto that included racist and antisemitic messages, and also mentioned some New Jersey cities for one specific reason.
The hateful ramblings posted online sent shockwaves to Ocean County, as the vitriolic screed referenced Lakewood and neighboring Toms River — both home to large and growing Orthodox Jewish populations.
"It puts a shudder right down your spine," said Lakewood Township Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein. "That scares us."
Authorities said there are no known threats in the area, but nonetheless, the Lakewood Police Department has increased patrols and visibility in the community, especially around the township’s many religious schools and synagogues, to help ease concerns. They say they can’t take chances.
"We're always on the lookout for copycats and anytime you get a direct, direct link or connection, so we're always hyper vigilant right now in everything we do," said Police Chief Gregory Meyer.
Some residents were already on edge following a series of violent attacks on Orthodox Jews in Lakewood and Jackson Township in April. Investigators said the man who carried them out was motivated by hate.
"Something like what happened in Buffalo just serves as a reminder from a police perspective and safety perspective of how, on how high alert we have to be," Lichtenstein said.
Lakewood police are getting help with extra patrols from the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, the prosecutor’s office and New Jersey State Police. The chief says he’ll ask for more resources if necessary.
"Who knows what this person could have done. It’s a real, it shakes us to the core," said Agudath Israel New Jersey Director Rabbi Avi Schnall. "We just once again are reminded that all you really can do ultimately is pray. Pray to the ultimate protector.”