USA – Man fires apparent blanks inside SF synagogue; suspect sought by SFPD

San Francisco, CA – A man entered a San Francisco Jewish Synagogue on Wednesday night and fired possible blanks, according to the San Francisco Police Department. SFPD is attempting to find the gunman.

The incident happened at the Schneerson Center, located at 2655 Balboa Street, at about 7:20 p.m. Officers found shell casings at the scene. There were no injuries or property damage.

A video (above) shows the incident. The video shows a man walking into a room where more than a dozen people are sitting around a table. He makes some gestures with his hands before taking out a gun and firing it around the room.

He said some things to the people in the room before waving and leaving. The whole incident happened in less than one minute.

The man who fired the gun was wearing a baseball cap, jacket and sneakers. After he took out the gun, the video shows a man making a phone call and walking toward him.

Some people in the community believe the shooting was a targeted act.

“To me, this feels like an act of terrorism. The point was to terrify the Jewish people here,” said Alon Chanukov, the vice president of the Schneerson Center.

Chanukov said the center is mainly used by Russian-speaking Jewish people, but it is open to everyone so they often have newcomers walking in. The video shows that almost nobody ran for cover when the shots were fired.

“I don’t think people knew what was happening. We are talking about elderly people. The youngest being 60, then 70s and 80s. They don’t get up easily and the chairs are very comfortable,” Chanukov said.

Nobody called the police after the incident. Chanukov finally did on Thursday morning, but he said there is a fear that speaking out will cause retaliation.

Chanukov said they are trying to get private security for Chabod on Friday, but it’s expensive. When attacks have occurred at other synagogues in the past, the Schneerson Center asked the mayor and police for them to patrol around the center, but they say they were denied.

The FBI and SFPD announced Thursday night that they are investigating the incident.

Second Incident

At 8:00 p.m. Wednesday night, officers responded to a theater on the 3600 block of Balboa Street for another report of a man with a gun. An employee of the theater said a man was speaking with employees while looking at merchandise, and he took out a gun during the interaction. He walked away on Balboa Street.

The suspect’s description is similar to the suspect in the synagogue incident, although the incidents are unrelated. SFPD believes it might be the same person. Anyone with information is asked to contact the SFPD at 415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD. 

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