New information suggests Shmuel Silverberg z”l, 18, was killed in Denver by a group of criminals who followed him into the yeshiva on Wednesday.
In an interview with Hamodia, a parent with sons at Yeshivah Toras Chaim in Denver provided more information on the tragedy that he learnt after visiting the yeshiva. He emphasized that as of now, there is “no knowledge of the motive…[police] have yet to categorize it as targeting a Jewish institution” and the shooting was believed to be part of a larger stealing and shooting spree that took place by a group of men that night.
On Wednesday, police said, “It does not appear, at this time, that this was a bias motivated crime. We think this was part of a larger crime spree. However, we are not ruling that out.”
In a statement to Hamodia on Thursday, a Denver police spokesperson said in statement, “The circumstances of the incident and other incidents that occurred by the suspects remain under investigation, and therefore we will not be commenting on the details, at this time.”
The parent told Hamodia that the three or four assailants were by the yeshiva around 11 p.m. when they shot into fronts windows of the building, into the library. Silverberg, who was the only bochur outside, ran, and the criminals chased after him. When the doors to the front entrances would not open, having been securely locked, Silverberg ran to the back door near the kitchen.
There, the men caught up to Silverberg and forced him to open the door, and they all entered into a vestibule near the kitchen together.
The menahel, Rabbi Naftali Seidenfeld ran in from his office towards the vestibule, apparently hearing the disturbance. He locked eyes with one of the criminals, who shot at him. Rabbi Seidenfeld fell backwards, unharmed, as the bullets had been stopped by a nearby door separating the vestibule from the dining room. The bochurim in the dining room were unharmed and protected by the door.
Then the assailants shot Silverberg, and fled before police arrived. Tragically, Silverberg succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. A levayah took place in Denver Wednesday afternoon, and another levayah and kevurah took place in Lakewood on Wednesday night.
The rest of the students were led by police to stay elsewhere as a precaution, and the next day there were police patrolling in front of the yeshiva.
In a statement, the yeshiva said, “Our Yeshiva Toras Chaim community is grief stricken at the killing of one of our students overnight. We are caring for our faculty, staff, students, and their families in the face of this tragic and incomprehensible act of violence. We are grateful for the support we are receiving from our Denver community and from around the country, and for the work of local law enforcement authorities who have made this their top priority. Our community is seeking solace and privacy at this time.”
The yeshiva provided the bachurim with a psychologist and they watched the levayah via a livestream.
When asked how his own sons were coping, the parent told Hamodia, “the pain is beyond…I’m sure it’s going to be a long term [psychological] recovery.”
Updated Thursday, August 19, 2021 at 2:15 pm .
Updated Monday, August 23, 2021 at 12:53 pm .