An unidentified gunman fired a shot at a Sunday school classroom window Tuesday morning at Temple Adath B’Nai Israel (TABI) in Evansville, Indiana.
Rabbi Gary Mazo told WFIE News he believes the attack took place Sunday, and that the shooter had to have walked to the back of the building, by the synagogue playground.
The FBI has said that the case, which now falls under federal purview, is likely to be ruled a hate crime. Indiana is one of five states in the U.S. that has no hate crime legislation of its own.
The rabbi posted an emotional statement on the synagogue’s Facebook page following the attack:
“We have all been reading and watching as anti-semitism and hate spreads across our country like wild fire. Sadly, we had an incident at TABI that we need to share with our members and friends. At some point on Sunday afternoon, someone fired a weapon into one of the classrooms in the back of the building. It was not a high caliber bullet – most likely a pellet gun or BB. The police and the FBI were very responsive and they are treating this as a “hate crime.” There is no other damage to our building and the building was unoccupied at the time.
Most importantly, everyone is fine. The police are increasing patrols and the officers are doing regular walk-arounds of our property to keep us all safe. Mayor Winnecke came by to offer support and any assistance we may need.
There is a fine line here between not wanting to make too much of this one incident and at the same time realizing this is a part of a much larger problem in our society – one of increasing hatred, xenophobia and bigotry. The irony is that I was just talking to a reporter last week about the beauty of this community and the hope that our community can be above the acts of hatred that are plaguing Jewish communities across the country.
The goal of attacks and acts like this is to instill fear and I will not give in to that fear. We will be smart – we will increase police presence, keep the building locked (as we always do) and continually be vigilant. If we stay away from our house of worship, if we lock the doors of our home and don’t leave out of fear – then the bigots and xenophobes will have been successful.
We are a strong people, we are a strong community and we know that these incidents are the result of ignorance and a lack of understanding that what unites us all is far greater than what divides us. Let’s keep our heads up and our hearts strong and not let this deter us from the important work we do.”
The Department of Homeland Security has begun offering security assessments to Jewish Community Centers and other Jewish institutions around the United States in response to the uptick in anti-Semitic attacks around the country. In addition, DHS personnel are also training Jewish community members on how to handle bomb threats and active shooters in the event that such a situation arises.
There have been five waves of bomb threats against Jewish community centers across the United States and in some parts of Canada — at least 90 threats called into JCCs to date, including those in the fifth wave this past Monday.