Shots fired at Temple Israel synagogue in Albany, suspect in custody

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NEW YORK — Bullets were fired on the grounds of the Temple Israel synagogue in Albany on Thursday, but no one was killed or wounded by the gunfire, authorities said.

A 28-year-old man was immediately detained in connection with the shooting, which came hours before the start of Hanukkah at sundown.

The suspect told both a bystander and responding officers, “Free Palestine,” according to Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins.

“Make no mistake: The safety of Jewish New Yorkers is non-negotiable,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “Any act of antisemitism is unacceptable, and undermining public safety at a synagogue on the first night of Hanukkah is even more deplorable.”

The suspect fired two shotgun blasts while standing near a staircase outside Temple Israel, Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins said at a news conference.

“No one was shot,” Hawkins said. “We don’t have damage to any buildings.”

The gunman then walked away from the synagogue and encountered a bystander driving a car down the street, Hawkins said. The bystander spoke with the man, who eventually dropped the shotgun.

At that point, officers arrived on the scene, detained the man and picked up the weapon, according to Hawkins.

“I have spoken to the rabbi at Temple Israel and assured her the state will do everything in our power to restore the sense of security her community needs,” Hochul said.

Watchdog groups have reported rising antisemitism and Islamophobia since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists attacked Israel, prompting the Israeli military to launch a deadly counter offensive in the Gaza Strip. In Vermont, three Palestinian-American students were shot and wounded in late November. Authorities are investigating the violence as a potential hate crime.

Hochul placed New York State Police and the New York National Guard on high alert Thursday after the shots were fired in Albany. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime, Hawkins said.

“After this press conference, we’re gonna be lighting Hanukkah candles, because we need light in darkness,” said Rabbi Wendy Anderson of Temple Israel.