San Diego County Crime Stoppers on Wednesday offered a reward of up to $1,000 for help in identifying and locating the man who threatened and assaulted Orthodox Rabbi Aharon Shapiro on July 24 inside a 7-Eleven at 5142 College Avenue near San Diego State University.
Added to a previous offer of $2,500 from the StandWithUs organization, that brings to $3,500 the amount offered for the suspect’s identification and arrest.
San Diego Police Lt. Adam Sharki said the attack was being investigated as a hate crime. San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera, who is a member of the Jewish community, subsequently issued a news release calling for members of the public to step forward to identify the suspect.
“All people have a right to practice their religion without fear of violence or prejudice. More and more often, our Jewish community is being targeted with antisemitic attacks and discrimination,” Elo-Rivera said. “This is unacceptable and the most recent example in our region–an attack on a member of the College Area’s Jewish community–infuriates me.”
As reported by San Diego Jewish World on July 26, Shapiro, who wears a white beard, tzitzit (ceremonial fringes) and a yarmulke (skull cap) said he was followed into the store by a white man, about 5’8 or 5’9 tall, and approximately 30-35 years old, with shoulder-length curly brown hair, who asked to know whether Shapiro was Jewish.
Shapiro said after he confirmed he was indeed Jewish, the man “goes into a tirade, anti-Israel, antisemitic — ‘Jews all deserve to die!’; ‘Israel is killing people!’ ‘Israel doesn’t deserve to exist’ — and he is raising his voice, not screaming, but he is not taking a breath.”
Later, as Shapiro was paying for two cans of Coke Zero, the man “grabbed one of my tzitzits, pulled it off the garment, threw it on the floor, said something vile which I don’t remember, and he ran out the door.”
The suspect’s image was caught on the store’s security cameras. Anyone with information about the man is asked to call San Diego Police Department’s Eastern Division at (858) 495-7900 or the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (888) 580-8477.
Donald H. Harrison is editor emeritus of San Diego Jewish World.