NEW YORK — A knife-wielding man stabbed an Israeli student in the head inside a synagogue at the Brooklyn headquarters of an international Jewish organization early Tuesday before being fatally shot by police after refusing to drop the knife, authorities said.
The man stormed into the Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in Crown Heights at about 1:40 a.m. and attacked Levi Rosenblat, who was studying inside the synagogue, spokesman Rabbi Motti Seligson said. He said there were other people inside at the time.
The 22-year-old Rosenblat was in stable condition after being stabbed in the temple, officials said.
Part of the confrontation was caught on video. A clip posted on the Facebook page of Israeli news site 0404 shows a man in a waist-length jacket and hat with a knife in his right hand. He is surrounded by police officers with weapons drawn.
An officer tells him to put the weapon down and step away from it. He put it on a chair and stepped away, but moments later he picked it up again. He started to move around with officers yelling for him to drop the knife. Then, a gunshot is heard and the suspect falls to the ground, with officers still yelling for him to drop the knife.
According to witnesses, the attacker was heard saying repeatedly “Kill the Jews,” said Rabbi Chaim Landa, another spokesman for Chabad-Lubavitch. Several other people immediately intervened, he said.
A witness flagged down a patrol officer, who confronted the 49-year-old man and told him to put the knife down. He initially put it down, but picked it up again, police said. More officers responded and repeatedly ordered the man to drop the knife.
He refused and, with the knife in his hand, charged at one of the officers, who fired once, striking the man in the torso, police said.
Police said no other officers discharged their weapons.
The man was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was not immediately identified, but police said he was from New York City and had a criminal history.
New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind condemned the attack.
“I’m told that the attacker came earlier that evening, too. He was stalking the scene. Thank God he didn’t inflict more harm nor do more damage to more people,” Hikind said in an email statement.
A 23-centimetre knife, with a 11.5-centimetre blade, was recovered at the scene, police said.
“We commend the heroic efforts of the individuals who were present and took immediate action. If not for their intervention the outcome could have been, God forbid far worse,” said Landa.
Last month in Jerusalem, two Palestinian cousins wielding knives, meat cleavers, and a handgun stormed a synagogue killing four worshippers and a policeman. The two assailants were shot to death by police.
In 2012, a homeless man was arrested inside another Crown Heights synagogue. He was caught on video in a confrontation with two police officers who ordered him to leave the outreach centre at the Aliya Institute. The charges were dropped after the synagogue said he was sleeping in a back room and had permission to be there.