A New York City man was shot and killed by police in Brooklyn after he reportedly stabbed an Israeli rabbinical student at the headquarters for one of the most prominent orthodox Jewish communities in the world, according to the New York City Police Department (NYPD).
The incident took place just before 2am Tuesday when the alleged attacker, 49-year-old Calvin Peters, entered the Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood wielding a nine-inch knife. After making his way inside the building, Peters stabbed 22-year-old Levi Rosenblat in the head. Onlookers reportedly heard Peters saying "Kill the Jews" multiple times, Chabad spokesman Rabbi Chaim Landa told the Associated Press.
Video taken inside the synagogue shows the interaction between Peters — who reportedly has a history of mental illness and a criminal record — and police officers responding to the scene. The accused attacker yells at congregants before officers enter the scene with their guns drawn. One of the orthodox men in the synagogue tells the officer "Don't shoot!" Others seem to be similarly urging the officer to exercise restraint.
An officer orders Peters to drop the knife, step away, and put his hands up. The officer leading the response effort, spends nearly two minutes trying to talk the man into dropping the weapon. In one conversation exchange, Peters asks the officer "You going to shoot me?" The officer responds: "If you don't drop the knife, I will."
After initially putting the knife down, Peters picks it back up and makes a quick move to another part of the room. Multiple officers quickly surround him. A bookshelf then obstructs camera's view. Amid yelling and orders to "Drop the fucking knife!" a gunshot rings out, hitting Peters in the torso.
In a separate video, posted by Israeli media outlet 0404, Peters can be seen lying on the ground wounded. Police yell at him not to move — and to put his "fucking" hands out — while he lies on his stomach and gets cuffed by an officer.
Peters was taken to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn where he later died. Rosenblat is in stable condition.
"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," Landa told the AP. "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."
According to NYPD officials, the attack is being looked at as criminal and not terror-related. Despite likely being a lone incident, police presence will be heavier at New York City synagogues for the rest of the day.
In a statement on Tuesday, the city's comptroller Scott Stringer called the attack a "horrific act of violence that has no place in our City." Stringer added that the "troubling incident highlights the need to increase support for people with mental illness in our City to possibly avoid tragic events like this in the future."
Follow Kayla Ruble on Twitter: @RubleKB