New York City police fatally shot a man they said stabbed an Israeli rabbinical student in the head inside a prominent Brooklyn synagogue during a late-night prayer session.
WABC-TV in New York reported that the 23-year-old victim was stabbed on the left side of the head by the suspect, identified as Calvin Peters, 49, just before 1:45 a.m. Tuesday morning. The Associated Press reported that the stabbing victim's name was Levi Rosenblat.
Dramatic cellphone video of the incident first posted on an Israeli news site showed police trying to convince the suspect to drop his knife. One of the worshippers actually took on the role of negotiator, also pleading with the suspect to drop his knife and at the same time pleading with police not to shoot the intruder.
The video culminates with audio of a police officer shooting one bullet that killed the suspect. (Warning — graphic content):
The NYPD confirmed to WABC that an officer shot the man once in the torso.
During the standoff seen in the video, a police officer had his gun drawn while the suspect held his knife several feet away, asking those around him, “Want me to kill you?”
One of the religious Jewish worshippers urged the man to put down his knife and then told the police officer, “He wants to eat” and “no, no, no, don’t shoot.”
The police officer repeatedly said, “Put down the f***ing knife.”
The man eventually said, “I’m cool” and agreed to put down the knife, which he did.
The tense moment appeared to have been defused, and the officer even placed his gun back in the holster. But then man picked up his knife again.
The end of the standoff was filmed from behind a partition, but audio conveyed police repeatedly saying, “Put down the f***ing knife” followed by the sound of one gunshot.
Hours after the incident, the suspect's motives were still unclear.
A spokesman for Chabad told Israel’s Army Radio that the attack was likely not connected to terrorism or anti-Semitism.
“There is a 98 percent chance that this wasn’t a hate incident or a nationalistically motivated incident,” Rabbi Moni Ender of Chabad in Israel told Army Radio, according to the Times of Israel.
He said that many “borderline homeless” people came to the synagogue to escape the cold.
The New York Post described the suspect as “a disturbed man” who according to police sources had asked for a Bible before stabbing the Israeli man.
But eyewitnesses speaking to the Associated Press and the New York Daily News suggested a possible anti-Semitic motive.
The Daily News quoted a witness who said he heard the attacker yelling as he entered the Jewish center, "I will kill the Jew! I want to kill the Jew!"
The AP reported that the attacker was heard saying repeatedly "Kill the Jews," according to Chaim Landa, a spokesman for Chabad-Lubavitch.