Man arrested after shots fired outside New York temple

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(ALBANY, N.Y.) — A man was arrested Thursday afternoon after he allegedly fired off a shotgun in the parking area of an Albany, New York synagogue, Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

The FBI has identified the suspect in Thursday’s incident as Mufid Fawaz Alkhader, who is being charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

An initial court appearance has been scheduled for today at U.S. District Court in Albany.

No one was injured during the incident at the Temple Israel around 2:27 p.m. and the suspect, only described as a 28-year-old local man, was quickly arrested the governor said.

“As we’ve talked about before, after the Oct. 7 attacks I’ve ordered our state police as well National Guard to be on high alert,” Hochul told reporters at a news conference.

The suspect allegedly made “threatening statements,” during the incident, Hochul said. The suspect, who has a criminal history, is pending an arraignment, according to the governor.

“Thanks to the swift coordination between the ATF, FBI, and our partners at Albany Police Department and New York State Police, Mufid Fawaz Alkhader has been arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. More information will be provided by the United States Attorney’s Office following an initial appearance scheduled for tomorrow at U.S. District Court in Albany,” said the FBI in a statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

An early childhood center located on the premises was forced to lockdown but parents were later able to pick up their kids, according to the governor.

Hochul said she spoke with Rabbi Wendy Love Anderson and reassured her that her congregation would be kept safe. The governor said there is no other ongoing threat.

“And I remind everyone, as New Yorkers this is not who we are. This must stop. We reject hate, anti- Semitism [and] Islamophobia. All hate crimes must stop, and all violence in every form must cease,” she said.

The governor noted that the temple previously was the target of a bomb threat in September. Hochul noted that the incident also came at a sensitive time for the Jewish community as it was the first night of Hanukkah.

During the news conference, Eva Wyner, the deputy director of Jewish Affairs for the New York State Executive Chamber, lit the first candle of the menorah.

“We can not be intimidated. We can not be threatened in holding these traditions,” she said.

Meanwhile, Hochul has put authorities on high alert for potential attacks and disruptions during Hanukkah.

“I am immediately directing the New York State Police and New York National Guard to be on high alert and increase the existing patrols of at-risk sites we had planned for the Hanukkah holiday, including at synagogues, yeshivas and community centers, and working closely with local law enforcement,” Hochul said in a press release announcing her actions.

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