Shocking video captured the moment a man walked into a San Francisco synagogue and fired several blank rounds in front of stunned congregants after reportedly saying, “I’m going to show you something.”
The terrifying episode unfolded at the Schneerson Center, a synagogue predominantly attended by Russian-speaking Jews, where the man walked in at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
He made some hand gestures in front of a group of people, pulled a gun from his jacket and fired the blanks, the video posted by KRON shows.
As an elderly man approached him, the gunman saluted and left the synagogue.
Police later found the suspect, identified as 51-year-old Dmitri Mishin, in the Richmond District and slapped him with multiple charges, including disturbing a religious assembly and brandishing an imitation firearm, CBS San Francisco reported.
Rabbi Alon Chanukov described the incident as a hate crime.
Mishin has been linked to social media accounts featuring anti-Semitic propaganda and images of him clad in a World War II-era Nazi military uniform, the San Francisco Standard reported.
A Twitter account that appears to belong to Mishin posted a video of something burning in front of the Schneerson Center, according to the outlet.
The account later published an image of a poster reading “Achtung – Jude” (“Attention, Jew”). Mishin also was seen wearing a uniform featuring a swastika and brandishing a hand grenade.
“Terrorism doesn’t have to have killings. In my mind, what he did was he came and he did a terrorist attack. He came to terrorize people,” Chanukov told ABC 7.
“The action is terrifying. To have a stranger come in and start shooting in your place of worship, in your place where you should feel safe,” he added.
The rabbi said the suspect first spoke Russian to the congregants and said something about Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency.
“I believe that may have been when he said, ‘Say hello to Mossad for me,’” Chanukov told the news outlet.
“And so somehow he was harming Mossad by scaring the Jews in America at this one synagogue. I am not really clear. Obviously, I think the person is deranged, the person is mentally unwell,” he added.
The rabbi said the congregants likely believed the man was a friendly visitor because he spoke Russian.
“You don’t take a gun, make sure to have bullets that are blanks, go to a Russian-speaking synagogue during a celebration weekly class on a Wednesday and shoot it up and say something about Mossad just by coincidence,” he told ABC 7.
A witness who wished to remain anonymous told the outlet: “Here comes a guy, I ask him, ‘Do you speak Russian?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I asked him, ‘Come join us.’ I didn’t hear, but some people said he said, ‘I’m going to show you something.’”
Despite Chanukov’s assertions, Mishin has reportedly not been booked on suspicion of a hate crime.
Police said that the day before the incident, Mishin went into the nearby Balboa Theatre, brandished a handgun and fled.
No one was injured in either incident and the suspect was being held without bail, according to the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office.
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