Four NYC Synagogues Targeted by Rock-Throwing Assailant: Police

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Jewish houses of worship have been the target of a vandal in the Bronx, prompting a response from city and state leaders to investigate the reported anti-Semitic acts.

Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Sunday that the NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force "has a solid lead on the vile acts of anti-Semitism in the Bronx and we will take swift action against the perpetrators."

Over the course of several nights, four synagogues in the borough were damaged by an unidentified suspect hurling rocks. Police said Chabad of Riverdale and Riverdale Jewish Center were hit around 12:30 a.m. Friday.

The same synagogues were targeted against Saturday night, as well as the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel and Young Israel of Riverdale. In each instance, windows and doors were shattered or significantly damaged by thrown rocks. The man is also seen kicking at least one of the windows.

Early Monday morning, the same suspect struck again at the Riverdale Jewish Center — despite police being present. Police said that officers were stationed out front where the other attacks had occurred, but the suspect this time went through the back and they missed him.

In the reports shared by the NYPD, the department describes a single assailant is responsible for each of the incidents. The man was seen on video wearing a camouflage jacket.

A man who belongs to the Riverdale Jewish Center said the suspect seems familiar.

"I saw him here a couple weeks ago and he was roaming the neighborhood," said David Hochhauser. "I'm hopeful that they get this guy very soon. I think he's mentally ill, I mean he's gotta be ... it's just unsettling to have someone smash windows for no reason."

Some in the neighborhood said they thought there was a good chance he'd visit again Monday night, given that he was deterred by police presence on the previous night.

The string of incidents has similarly caught the attention of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who directed the New York State Police Hate Crimes Task Force on Sunday to assist in the city's investigation.

"We stand with Jewish New Yorkers--an essential part of the fabric of our state--as we do with all victims of bigotry, and I look forward to seeing this investigation resolved quickly," the governor said in a statement.

Despite the attacks, congregants still showed up for evening services on Sunday. NYPD officers were seen guarding the outside of worship houses throughout the weekend.

"The synagogue has been the central point of all Jewish society so whoever they are...whenever someone wants to attack Jews the first thing they go after is the synagogue," said Harvey Wolintz.

Jewish houses of worship have been the target of a vandal in the Bronx, prompting a response from city and state leaders to investigate the reported anti-Semitic acts. NBC New York's Ida Siegal reports.

"So maybe some people won't come to the synagogues. They'll be afraid for a while. I can't get that in the way, once you do that, they've won already," Wolintz added.

Elected leaders who represent the Riverdale section of the Bronx issued a joint statement Sunday afternoon.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the hate crimes and vandalism that are occurring in Riverdale. No one should be attacked or living in fear because of their race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. The threat towards synagogues and other Jewish institutions is real and we must treat these issues head on," said Rep. Jamaal Bowman, State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, State Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz, and Councilmember Eric Dinowitz.

Police have increased patrols in a Bronx neighborhood after four synagogues were targeted several times by a rock-throwing assailant. NBC New York's Ida Siegal reports.
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