Police say that the suspect pulled out a gun from his jacket and fired multiple shots inside a San Francisco synagogue. He had filled his weapon with blanks.
Dmitri Mihin, 51, entered the Schneerson Center in San Francisco’s Richmond District at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Schneerson Center, a small synagogue, is where many local Jews gather to worship, although most speak only Russian.
A table of people was seated at their Wednesday class that evening when Mishin interrupted them. Witnesses claimed that Mishin spoke Russian at first to put them at ease, but then said cryptically that he had something to show them. He then pulled out a gun from his coat and shouted about Mossad (the Israeli intelligence agency) before firing several shots.
Rabbi Alon Chanukov said that the shooting was a hate crime.
Chanukov, who was absent at the incident, said that the suspect looked “like he had malice” according to witnesses.
Surveillance footage shows that the suspect entered the synagogue and pulled out a gun. However, the people at the table nearby didn’t react. The only one who seems to flinch is the elderly gentleman who calls and approaches the suspect, then calmly leads him outside.
Matthew Finkelstein, a synagogue attendee, stated that “people didn’t even get up” and added that many were likely “paralyzed by fear.” Finkelstein said that nobody at the center on that night recognized the shooter.
The police eventually found several shell casings on the spot and determined they were blanks. The incident resulted in no injuries or property damage.
Some synagogue members remain afraid. Rabbi Bentzion Pil said, “I still have trauma.” “It’s difficult to sleep because it’s hard for me to think about the community.”
Social media accounts linked to Mishin, suggest that he might harbor anti-Semitic sentiments. Chanukov stated that terrorism does not have to involve killings. He did what I consider terrorist acts. He came to terrorize the people.”
Mishin was not charged with hate crimes despite these concerns. Mishin was arrested and charged with several offenses, including disturbing religious meetings, drawing or exhibiting imitation firearms, and an unspecified felony.
Mishin is also being investigated in connection to a similar incident that occurred nearby the day before. A man entered Balboa Theatre on Tuesday and brandished a gun before fleeing. Police said that Mishin was linked to both of these crimes by the evidence found at his residence.