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Hate Incident on Hanukkah: Gunfire Erupts Near Albany Synagogue as Man Shouts “Free Palestine”

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The first night of Hanukkah was Thursday. This year, the celebration has taken on a new significance in light of Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, and the ugly, exponential increase of antisemitism that we have seen since.

Unfortunately, in Albany, New York the celebrations were marred by a man who allegedly fired on the grounds at Temple Israel while shouting, “Free Palestine.”

Police said that a man shot a shotgun two times outside a Jewish Temple in Upstate New York on Thursday morning, just hours before Hanukkah began. He then shouted “Free Palestine” while he was being taken into custody. Police said no one was hurt.

Gunfire was heard outside Temple Israel at 2 pm. A 28-year-old male is in custody. The man was not identified by the police, but Gov. Kathy Hochul confirmed that he was local.

The good news is that no one was hurt. Mufid Alkhader, 28, was identified as the man.

The police have revealed more details about this incident.

CNN was told by a state and law enforcement official that the gunshots were fired in the air. Police said that shotgun shells had been found on the staircase leading up to the front entrance of the building.

Hawkins said that after the shots were fired a suspect fled and was met by someone in a car. Hawkins, the Albany police chief, said that the suspect had told the driver of the vehicle that he felt victimized.

Hawkins stated that the suspect dropped his shotgun, and then police arrested him. Hawkins said that based on the information the police had, the man was acting alone and that there wasn’t a greater threat to the local community.

Early Friday morning, the FBI Albany office released an update regarding the incident.

Mufid Alkhader was arrested and charged with possession of a gun by a prohibited individual. This arrest and charge were made possible due to the quick coordination between ATF, FBI, and our partners from the Albany Police Department and New York State Police. The United States Attorney’s Office will provide more information following a first appearance tomorrow in U.S. District Court Albany.

This story is developing. As new information becomes available, we will update this story.

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