Blog Briefing Room

FBI investigating gunshot at Indiana synagogue as hate crime

Jewish Community Center, Israel, Bomb threat
Getty Images

A gunshot fired at an Indiana synagogue classroom is being investigated by the FBI as a possible hate crime, according to an Indianapolis Star report.

The bullet pierced a window at the Adath B’Nai Israel Temple’s Sunday school, damage that was discovered Monday amid a wave of bomb threats at Jewish community centers and schools across the country.

Rabbi Gary Mazo, who leads the Adath B’Nai Israel Temple in Evansville, Ind., said he believes the shooter intended to instill fear in the community by shooting at a classroom. 

{mosads}”Someone had to walk into a children’s playground, then look into a classroom and then fire some sort of weapon. It was to inflict damage, but I think more importantly … to inflict fear,” Mazo told the newspaper.

The incident likely occurred on Sunday, but the damage wasn’t discovered until late Monday. It was reported to the authorities on Tuesday morning, according to reports.

Mazo used the incident to call on elected leaders to respond strongly, suggesting the recent wave of anti-Semitic attacks might be the result of people who believe they are fulfilling the unexpressed wishes of their leaders.

 “I think people really believe that they are doing what some of our leaders want them to do because there is so much hateful rhetoric out there that people feel like that this is simply just following up on the message that they heard through the campaign, Mazo told the newspaper. 

“[Leaders] need to stand up and let people know that we don’t tolerate this,” Mazo continued.

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke condemned the shooting in a statement issued after he visited the temple on Tuesday morning.

“The shot fired at Temple Adath B’Nai Israel is a disgusting act of hate and bigotry that cannot be tolerated. … Our community must come together in support of religious freedom and stand together with our Jewish brothers and sisters,” he said.

Recent media coverage has highlighted a string of attacks and threats against Jewish community centers and schools across the country. Earlier this month, the JCC Association of North America reported that 11 Jewish community centers were targeted by bomb threats, all of which proved to be hoaxes. And over the weekend, dozens of headstones were found damaged and overturned at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia.

Last week, President Trump spoke about the violence when he visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

“Anti-Semitism is horrible, and it’s going to stop, and it has to stop,” Trump said in an interview with MSNBC.

But this week, he reportedly told a group of state attorneys general that “sometimes it’s the reverse to make people — or to make others — look bad,” when asked about the wave of recent anti-Semitic incidents.

Trump’s comment was relayed to BuzzFeed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro after the meeting, who added, “It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.”

“He did correctly say at the top that it was reprehensible,” he noted.

Also Tuesday, a senior adviser to Trump linked the latest wave of threats against Jewish community centers to Democrat in a tweet.

“We’re in this climate now where acts of hate are happening everywhere,” the Indiana rabbi, Mazo, added.

One day before the attack was reported, a proposed hate crimes bill failed in the Indiana Legislature. 

Indiana does not have a hate crime law, one of only five states without such a law. The others are South Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, and Wyoming.


The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video