UNITED STATES NEWS

Man who fired shotgun outside New York synagogue cited events in the Mideast, federal agent says

Dec 8, 2023, 6:23 AM | Updated: 2:56 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A man who fired a shotgun into the air outside a synagogue in New York’s capital city is an Iraqi-born U.S. citizen who told investigators he felt affected by events in the Middle East, a federal agent said in a court filing.

No one was injured by the gunfire Thursday afternoon outside Albany’s Temple Israel, but children attending preschool had to shelter in place while police searched the area.

Mufid Fawaz Alkhader, 28, was arrested a short distance away from the temple after laying down the shotgun, police said. He said “Free Palestine” when officers arrested him, according to Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins.

Federal prosecutors charged Alkhader with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person — a charge authorities said was related to his admitted use of marijuana. He could also face state charges. Hawkins said the episode was being investigated as a possible hate crime.

The episode happened on the first night of Hanukkah amid rising fears of antisemitism worldwide and fallout from Israel’s intensifying war in Gaza. Threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities have increased across the U.S. during the war, which entered its third month on Friday.

Alkhader was sent back to detention after a brief appearance in federal court Friday morning. He entered the court shackled and wearing a green jacket over his orange jail uniform. At times, he seemed to have difficulty following instructions from the judge.

“My English is limited,” he told the judge softly. He said he speaks Arabic.

Federal prosecutors and Alkhader’s public defender, Timothy Austin, declined to comment after the appearance. There was no date set for a preliminary hearing or a possible detention hearing.

Alkhader, who lives in Schenectady, which is near Albany, waived his right to remain silent and spoke with law enforcement officers after his arrest, a task force officer with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said in a court filing.

The officer’s affidavit didn’t detail what Alkhader said about his motivation, but the officer wrote that he offered that “the events in the Middle East have impacted him.”

A person who answered the door at Alkhader’s address in Schenectady and identified himself as his father declined to be interviewed, but said his son was mentally ill.

FBI spokesperson Sarah Ruane praised the “swift coordination” between federal, state and local law enforcement. Gov. Kathy Hochul said she has increased planned patrols of at-risk sites during Hanukkah.

Hank Greenberg, a member of Albany’s Temple Israel and spokesperson for the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, decried what he called the “heartbreaking reality” that Jewish houses of worship need police protection.

“Even with this grieving and suffering and fear we’re experiencing,” he said, “at the same time we know we will endure and prevail as we have in the past.”

___

Maysoon Khan is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter: @MaysoonKhan.

United States News

Hilton Crawford's Campaign Poster when he ran for Sheriff of Jefferson County in the 1976 Democrati...

Ben Kuebrich, KSL Podcasts

Former officer who kidnapped 12-year-old after tricking parents had red flags in police record

Episode six of Ransom: Position of Trust, dives into Hilton Crawford's past to see who he was and what led him to kidnap Mckay Everett.

14 minutes ago

Associated Press

Oklahoma Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit of last Tulsa Race Massacre survivors seeking reparations

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit of the last two survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, dampening the hope of advocates for racial justice that the government would make amends for one of the worst single acts of violence against Black people in U.S. history. The nine-member […]

26 minutes ago

Associated Press

High school president writes notes thanking fellow seniors — 180 of them

Emily Post would be proud. A high school class president in Massachusetts who gave a commencement speech wanted to recognize all of his fellow graduates. So he wrote them personal thank-you notes presented at the ceremony — 180 to be exact. “I wish I could’ve acknowledged you all, but there was simply not enough time,” […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

AP-NORC poll: About half of US adults approve of Trump’s conviction, but views of him remain stable

NEW YORK (AP) — About half of U.S. adults approve of Donald Trump’s recent felony conviction, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey shows some potential vulnerabilities, along with some signs of resilience in his support, as Trump tries to become the first American with a felony […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Judge faces inquiry after Illinois attorney was kicked out of court and handcuffed to chair

CHICAGO (AP) — Cook County’s top judge has asked state regulators to review allegations that an attorney was handcuffed to a chair after a judge kicked him out of her courtroom. Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans referred misconduct allegations against Judge Kathy Flanagan to the state Judicial Inquiry Board on Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

One of several South Dakota baseball players charged in rape case pleads guilty to lesser felony

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — One of the several former players on an American Legion baseball team in South Dakota charged last year with rape has pleaded guilty to a lesser felony. The 19-year-old former Mitchell player pleaded guilty to one count of accessory to a felony, according to court documents cited by KELO-TV on Tuesday. […]

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Man who fired shotgun outside New York synagogue cited events in the Mideast, federal agent says