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Man fires shotgun, shouts ‘Free Palestine’ outside Jewish temple with preschoolers inside


A man fired shotgun blasts and shouted “Free Palestine” outside a Jewish temple Thursday in Albany, New York, where at least two dozen children — including preschoolers — were inside. 

The suspect, a 28-year-old male, fired the shotgun outside Temple Israel around 2 p.m. 

A passerby talked to the gunman near the temple about 10 minutes after the shots were fired. The man dropped the shotgun before officers arrived on the scene and detained him, Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins told reporters at the scene.

“We were told by responding officers that he made a comment, ‘Free Palestine,'” Hawkins said.

Temple Israel

A menorah stands outside the entrance to Temple Israel, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, in Albany, N.Y.  (AP Photo/Maysoon Khan)

Though no one was injured, and the school was placed on lockdown. Parents were notified and were able to retrieve their children, who have since been safely released, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said during a press conference. 

“The prospect of violence in a place of worship is not just an attack on a building, it’s an attack on the very fabric of our society, our freedom to express our faith, our collective shared sense of safety,” Hochul said. 

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Hochul said Thursday’s incident was not the first incident at Temple Israel, noting that it was one of many synagogues targeted with bomb threats in September. 

Hochul said she directed the state police and National Guard to be on high alert and to increase planned patrols of at-risk sites for the holiday.

Temple Israel

Albany police officers gather outside Temple Israel, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Maysoon Khan)

Temple Israel Rabbi Wendy Love Anderson told reporters she was thankful to staff who ensured the safety of those inside the building, including the children.

“After this press conference, we’re going to be lighting Hannukah candles,” she said, “because we need light in darkness.”

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Federal law enforcement is currently leading the investigation with involvement from New York State Police and the New York State Hate Crimes Department agency. 

“Our office immediately deployed multiple resources and will continue to work in concert with our law enforcement partners, to include the United States Attorney’s Office, to work through the facts and determine any potential motives,” FBI Albany said in a statement. 

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said children had been at a preschool inside the building when the shots were fired. 

Mayor Sheehan called Thursday’s incident “a symptom of the malignant anti-Semitism that is spreading across our country.” 

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Coming just hours before the start of Hanukkah, Thursday’s episode takes place amid growing concerns of antisemitism in the U.S. and around the world sparked by Israel’s war with Hamas. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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