Authorities said Monday they have yet to determine whether the weekend shooting of a member of a Miami area synagogue constituted a hate crime, adding they’re still seeking the suspect after the attack outside the shul front door.
The victim, identified by the rabbi as shul member Yosef Lifshutz, was shot several times in the legs on Sunday evening and underwent surgery at a hospital, police said. He was listed in stable condition at Aventura Hospital.
Miami-Dade police detective Alvaro Zabaleta told news outlets the attacker got out of a black Chevrolet Impala around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday and shot the 68-year-old victim as he approached the front door of the Young Israel of Greater Miami building.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office’s hate crimes unit is reviewing the case, spokeswoman Lissette Valdes-Valle said on Monday.
The rabbi of the shul described Lifshutz as an esteemed member of the community.
“He’s a wonderful person,” Rabbi David Lehrfield told WSVN . “Everybody loves him.”
Police were searching for the shooter. The car had circled the shul several times as Lifshutz walked toward the building, Zabaleta told WSVN.
“It circled once again, and by that time the victim was approaching the door,” Zabaleta said. “That’s when the driver of the Impala exited the vehicle and opened fire towards the victim, striking him multiple times in the lower extremities.”
Damon Salzman, president of Young Israel of Greater Miami, posted on the shul’s social media that the person who shot Lifshutz is a bully and a coward.
“It does not take a criminal mastermind to shoot an elderly person sitting on a bench. It does not take a terrorist to try and kill someone isolated and defenseless,” Salzman wrote. “It takes a coward. It takes someone without courage to attack an elderly defenseless man sitting in front of a place of sanctuary. It takes someone devoid of humanity.”