A man flashing a police badge and armed with handcuffs and pepper spray worked his way into the Young Israel of Woodmere synagogue near the end of the Shabbat morning services, Channel 12 News reported Monday.
The report, which unfortunately refers to the Orthodox synagogue on 859 Peninsula Blvd. in Woodmere, NY, as a “Temple,” cites police officials who say Mikhail Mikhaylov, 28, a resident of Far Rockaway, Queens, just showed up wearing an NYPD baseball cap, parked in a restricted spot, told a security guard he was a police officer, entered the synagogue and told people he had a gun in his car.
When the shul’s head of security stopped and questioned him, Mikhaylov flashed an NYPD detective shield—or something like it, but when the security man insisting on seeing his police identification up close the bizarre intruder returned to his car and drove away.
Police say they found two knives on Mikhaylov’s person when they later apprehended him.
An attorney representing Mikhaylov in court Monday told the judge his client wanted to pray – a desire most Jews find ways to fulfill without impersonating a policeman.
News 12 interviewed Mikhaylov’s father who had no idea why his boy would impersonate a police officer to get into a synagogue, and the inevitable shocked neighbor who testified that Mikhaylov “actually has prayed at my synagogue.” Which could suggest that Mikhaylov is Jewish.
Young Israel of Woodmere released a statement saying: “We want to inform you of a situation that took place this past Shabbos. A person came to our shul building impersonating a police officer. Our YIW CSS security team, who are trained to be on the alert at all times, questioned this individual and the Police Dept. was contacted. We were informed that this person was arrested yesterday. You may read in the paper or hear on the news about this incident and we wanted to alert you about this. As always, safety and security are our priorities. We want to assure you that we take all precautions possible in safeguarding our shul and members.”
But nobody, not the shul, nor the police, nor Mikhaylov’s lawyer, nor Mikhaylov himself, would explain why did he need to pose as a cop to get into a synagogue where he was welcome without the costume. We’re going with a calendrical mix-up: he thought it was Purim.