'The Point Was to Terrify the Jewish People Here'

Man fires what may have been blanks in San Francisco synagogue
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 3, 2023 2:00 AM CST
Shots Fired in San Francisco Synagogue 'Feel Like Terrorism'
Stock photo of blanks.   (Getty Images / Ana Belen Garcia Sanchez)

Police in San Francisco are investigating a shooting inside a synagogue during which the unidentified suspect may have fired blanks rather than live rounds Wednesday night in what a synagogue official called an attempt to terrorize Jewish people. The synagogue did not report the incident until Thursday morning, the AP reports. No injuries or property damage were reported. Officers responded to a report of threats at the synagogue on Balboa Street around 9:30am Thursday, the San Francisco Police Department said in a statement early Friday. The person who made the report described an incident around 7:20pm Wednesday in which an unknown man entered the building and “shot several times," police said.

“To me, this feels like an act of terrorism. The point was to terrify the Jewish people here,” Alon Chanukov, the synagogue's vice president, told KRON-TV. KRON reported the incident Wednesday was captured on video. A man wearing a baseball cap, jacket and sneakers enters a room with more than a dozen people at a table and makes hand gestures before taking out a gun and fires around the room. The man then waves and exits less than a minute after entering the room. Police did not name the synagogue. Chanukov said the witnesses did not call police after the suspect fired the rounds believed to be blanks, but he phoned authorities Thursday morning.

“I don’t think people knew what was happening. We are talking about elderly people. The youngest being 60, then 70s and 80s,” Chanukov said, adding that there was a fear about retaliation from speaking out. The police noted there was another report of a person with a gun at a theater on the same block of Balboa Street at 8pm on Tuesday. A man brandished a gun at employees and then fled on foot. Police said the events appeared to be unrelated to the synagogue incident on Wednesday, but the similar descriptions indicate the man in each report is “possibly the same individual.” Investigators were searching for the suspect on Friday.

(More San Francisco stories.)

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