The Chabad Center of Cape Coral, Florida was attacked on the Sabbath while congregants were still inside, NBC2 reported.
Chabad-Lubavitch emissary Rabbi Yossi Labkowski said an “angry man” used bricks to try and bust in the front door just after the Shabbat morning prayers ended.
While many of the congregants had already left, several were still inside, according to Labkowski.
“Then we hear this loud noise,” he said. “I was approaching the door and I see somebody picking up a brick and just yanking it, throwing it at the door.
“He was targeting the Jewish community,” Labkowski said.
The attacker wasn’t able to break through the impact-resistant glass, so he turned his attention to the rabbi’s car sitting in the parking lot – again, using bricks to smash the front windshield and passenger side door.
“It’s only a car. That can be replaced. Thank G-d nobody was injured and nobody got hurt,” the rabbi said.
Inside, while all of this was happening was Jacob Ben-Haim. He was among the handful of people, including the rabbi’s son, who were watching as the man, described to be in his 40s or 50s, attacked their holy place.
Ben-Haim and others went to the rear door where he saw the man get in his car and speed away.
“I was in disbelief. Disbelief. Could not believe that something like this would happen in Cape Coral,” Ben-Haim said.
Thankfully no one was hurt, but the thought of ‘What could have happened?’ flashed through their minds. Antisemitic attacks at Jewish places of worship are, unfortunately, something worshipers at the Chabad Jewish Center of Cape Coral are aware of but hope never happens.
“This person wanted to get in. He was angry,” the rabbi said. “For some reason he wanted to get in and who knows, he could’ve been armed.”
Both the rabbi and Ben-Haim think the Jewish community and their Jewish center were targeted. They both called this a hate crime.
“In my opinion, it’s a hate crime,” Ben-Haim said.
“Absolutely,” added the rabbi. “The fact that he knocked down the [painting of a] menorah first and then he came to this door – he could’ve gone to any other business, [but] he came to this door.
“We don’t live in fear,” Labkowski told Fox 4 Now. “We are here and we will continue our work and if we have to protect ourselves, we will protect ourselves.”
The Cape Coral Police Department is investigating, the rabbi said. Officers came and collected evidence, including the bricks used by the man to try and break in.
The suspect is described as a white man, approximately 40 to 50 years old, and bald with glasses. He drove away in a gold-colored Ford SUV.
Anyone with information that might help investigators is asked to call CCPD or submit an anonymous tip online to SWFL CrimeStoppers, or call 1-800-780-TIPS.
This report first appeared on the COLLive.com website.