NEW YORK — A knife-wielding man stabbed an Israeli student in the head inside a Brooklyn synagogue early Dec. 9 before being fatally shot by police after he refused to drop the knife, authorities said.
The man stormed into the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic world headquarters in Crown Heights at about 1:40 a.m. and attacked Levi Rosenblat, who was studying inside the synagogue, spokesman Motti Seligson said. He said there were other people inside at the time.
According to witnesses, the attacker was heard saying repeatedly “Kill the Jews,” said Chaim Landa, a spokeswoman for Chabad-Lubavitch. Several other people immediately intervened, she said.
A witness flagged down a patrol officer, who confronted the 49-year-old man and told him to put the knife down. He initially put it down, but picked it up again, police said. More officers responded and repeatedly ordered the man to drop the knife.
He refused and, with the knife in his hand, charged at one of the officers, who fired once, striking the man in the torso, police said. Police said no other officers discharged their weapons.
The man was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. A lawyer says the man who stabbed the student had a history of bi-polar disorder.
Attorney Jeffrey St. Clair says Calvin Peters’ family is shocked and disappointed by the confrontation.
The 49-year-old can be seen in amateur video waving a knife. Police scream at him to drop the knife but he does not. He was fatally shot after he lunged at an officer.
St. Clair says Peters had two children and lived in Valley Stream, on New York’s Long Island for 10 years. He says the family sends condolences to the student who was stabbed.
He says there had been no warning signs that would have suggested Peters would do anything harmful.
The 22-year-old Rosenblat was in stable condition, officials said. A 9-inch knife, with a 4 ½-inch blade, was recovered at the scene, police said.
“We commend the heroic efforts of the individuals who were present and took immediate action. If not for their intervention the outcome could have been, God forbid far worse,” said Landa.
“While we are very pained by everything that has unfolded, we are very grateful to the police for their quick response and are working closely with the authorities in their ongoing investigation,” she added. Police said the investigation is continuing.