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Shots fired outside Temple Israel in Albany, New York governor says

Shots were fired on the premises of Temple Israel in Albany, New York, on Thursday, the first night of Hanukkah, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

No injuries were reported, and an investigation by federal, state and local law enforcement is ongoing. A 28-year-old male suspect is now in custody, the governor announced on social media.

The suspect is a local resident who fired rounds from a shotgun while making threatening statements, according to witnesses, Hochul said in a news briefing on Thursday afternoon. A nearby childhood education center went on lockdown in response, which has since been lifted.

Hochul added that the person in custody has a “rap sheet,” but refused to comment further on the suspect’s criminal history.

“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,” Hochul said in a statement, adding that she has spoken directly with the Temple’s rabbi and that the National Guard is also on alert.

“This builds on the significant efforts we have taken to protect religious communities in the wake of the October 7 attacks. Make no mistake: the safety of Jewish New Yorkers is non-negotiable,” the governor said.

A motive behind the shooting has not yet been made clear, but the New York State Hate Crimes Task Force is involved in the investigation.

This was not the first act or threat of violence against the temple, which received a bomb threat in September, said Hochul.

Hochul said she is planning on attending Shabbat services at the temple on Friday evening to express her support. She noted that antisemitism has risen in New York since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7. The governor also added that there were no further threats at this time.

“Any act of antisemitism is unacceptable,” said Hochul, “The first night of Hanukkah is even more deplorable. … All hate crimes must stop and all violence in every form must cease.”

In a social media post, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said the shooting was “a symptom of the malignant anti-Semitism that is spreading across our country.”

“It is our collective responsibility in Albany, in our state, and across our nation —regardless of our beliefs— to stand up and speak out against anti-Semitism,” Sheehan said.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said that he had been briefed on the situation and that the New York City Police Department remains on heightened alert.

“With the start of the holiday, the NYPD is implementing pre-planned measures for elevated security around public Menorah displays and at all lighting events. Everyone in our city has a right to practice their faith in peace, and we will ensure that right is protected,” Adams said.

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