The man arrested after a shotgun was fired outside of an Albany, New York, synagogue hours before the start of Hanukkah on Thursday is being held without bail.
Mufid Fawaz Alkhader, 28, was called a “danger to the community” during his Friday arraignment in U.S. District Court, according to The New York Times.
Alkhader, a resident of Schenectady, is a U.S. citizen who was born in Iraq, according to the Albany Times-Union.
Who is Mufid Alkhader? Albany synagogue shooting suspect
JUST IN: The suspect who allegedly opened fire outside of a synagogue in Albany, New York, was identified as 28-year-old Mufid Fawaz Alkhader.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) December 8, 2023
Alkhader shouted “Free Palestine” during the incident, in which two rounds from a shotgun were fired outside of Temple Israel, Albany police said.
He later told officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco & Explosives that “events in the Middle East have impacted him,” according to a criminal complaint.
Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins said shell casings were located on the stairway at the synagogue’s front entrance of the synagogue.
Hawkins said the building was not damaged, according to Newsweek.
Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime, Hawkins said Alkhader told police he was feeling victimized.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the incident took place “with at least two dozen children, preschoolers, who were on the premises,” according to the Times of Israel.
Alkhader is being charged, for now, under federal law with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person due to his admission of marijuana use, the Times-Union reported.
The incident took place as anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise due to the Israel-Hamas war.
“After this press conference, we’re going to be lighting Hanukkah candles — because we need light in darkness,” Temple Israel Rabbi Wendy Love Anderson said.
A statement from the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York called for vigilance and courage.
“During this time of rising antisemitism throughout our country and the world we encourage our community to be especially vigilant and aware of potential threats,” the statement said. “At the same time, we can not succumb to fear and intimidation and we must remain proud of our Jewish heritage and traditions.”
“In these challenging times, our unwavering spirit shines as a beacon of hope, proving that even in the darkest of moments, our light remains undimmed,” Temple Israel posted on its Facebook page.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.