As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2YhUIXS) Warren Lipschutz was outside the Young Israel of Greater Miami on NE 171st Street when a car pulled up in front of the synagogue, its driver getting out briefly and shooting his victim multiple times before pulling away.
Police chaplain Mark Rosenberg, a North Miami Beach resident, said that Lipschutz routinely came early to the synagogue, unlocking the door for other congregants and waiting on an outside bench to assist the rabbi on his arrival.
Lipschutz was heading towards the bench when the shooter opened fire, diving behind it for protection, an act that Rosenberg said may have saved his life.
Sources said that surveillance cameras near the synagogue show the shooter’s car circling the synagogue three times – once before the shooting, as Lipschutz was walking along the side of the building, again when the actual shooting occurred and then a third and final time after the shooting when rescue personnel had already arrived on scene.
Audio taken from a nearby security camera captured the sound of twelve gunshots within the span of less than three seconds and sources said that police recovered more than half a dozen empty casings from the crime scene.
An advisory released by the Miami-Dade Police Department described the suspect as an African American man between the ages of 20 to 25 with a slim build and short-cropped hair.
The suspect was reported to be driving a 2006 to 2013 Chevrolet Impala with tinted windows at the time of the shooting. Detective Lee Cowart of the Miami Dade Police Department said that police had yet to determine if the shooting was being classified as a hate crime but sources said that it is currently being investigated as if the hate crime determination had been made.
Community members have been discussing plans to have locals undergo security training but further steps need to be taken said North Miami Beach resident Alan Sakowitz.
“In 2019 you cannot police a community just by manpower,” Sakowitz told VIN News. “You have to have intelligence – a lot of cameras with facial recognition and license plate readers hooked into a database of wanted people so police are alerted before a crime happens and not after.”
Sakowitz noted that he recently made a kiddush to celebrate the birth of his granddaughter, arranging for an armed individual to be present.
“I didn’t want to have a large number of people and no one to respond if something happened,” said Sakowitz. “There is nowhere in the world today where you can have a large number of people gathering and not have a need for security.”
Addressing congregants at Monday night’s service at the Young Israel of Greater Miami, synagogue president Damon Salzman noted that the shooting was the third to have taken place at a United States synagogue in less than year.
Relating that none of his co-workers had heard of the shooting, Salzman urged fellow congregants to spread word of the incident to everyone they knew as well as elected officials at all levels in order to prevent future acts of violence and potential tragedies.
“Where is the outcry?” asked Salzman. “Where is the moral outrage? This is our home. Someone came into our home and shot us. The police presence right now is very nice. We appreciate it tremendously. But it’s a reaction. What is going to happen when things die down in a week or two weeks or a month or three months?”
National Council of Young Israel president Farley Weiss, a Boca Raton resident, drove to North Miami Beach in a show of support for the community.
Addressing the congregation, Weiss shared that the Young Israel of Bal Harbour had received a suspicious package just hours earlier bearing anti-Semitic sentiments and threats and spoke strongly about combatting inflammatory rhetoric aimed at Jews on all fronts, especially social media.
“The hate is spreading, the hate crimes against Jews more than any other people,” said Weiss. “But somehow the world is against hate except for when it comes to Jews.”