AP Photo/Maysoon Khan

NEW: Man Shouting ‘Free Palestine’ Fires Shots Near Albany Synagogue on First Night of Hanukkah

Thursday marked the first night of Hanukkah — a celebration that’s taken on new meaning this year in light of the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas and the ugly, exponential rise of antisemitism we’ve seen since. 

Unfortunately, the celebration was marred in Albany, New York, as a man allegedly fired shots on the grounds of Temple Israel while shouting “Free Palestine.” 

A man fired a shotgun twice outside a Jewish temple in upstate New York, hours before the start of Hanukkah on Thursday, then said “Free Palestine” as he was taken into custody, police said. No one was injured.

The gunfire outside Temple Israel happened at around 2 p.m. and a 28-year-old man was in custody, according to officials. Police did not identify the man, but Gov. Kathy Hochul said he was a local resident.

Thankfully, no one was injured. The man was later identified as 28-year-old Mufid Fawaz Alkhader. 

More details about the incident have been disclosed by law enforcement. 

The gunshots were fired into the air, a law enforcement source and a state official told CNN. Shotgun shells were found on a staircase leading to the front of the building, police said.
After the shots were fired, a suspect fled a few hundred yards from the parking lot and was confronted by a person in a vehicle, according to Hawkins, the Albany police chief. The suspect told the man in the vehicle he felt victimized, Hawkins said.
The suspect then dropped the shotgun and police took him into custody, Hawkins said. Based on the information police have, the man acted alone and there was no broader threat to the community, according to Hawkins.

The FBI’s Albany office issued an update on the incident early Friday morning.

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.

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