(WNY News Now) – Governor Kathy Hochul updated New Yorkers on an incident where shots were fired on the premises of Temple Israel in Albany. The Governor has directed the New York State Police and New York National Guard to be on high alert and increase the existing patrols of at-risk sites planned for the Hanukkah holiday, including at synagogues, yeshivas and community centers.
Albany, N.Y. – “Good afternoon. Today, I’m joined by our Director of State Operations, Kathryn Garcia, and our Deputy Secretary of Public Safety, Marcos Soler. At approximately 2:27 p.m. today, there was an incident at the Temple Israel in Albany, within the city of Albany’s confines. Shots were fired outside the temple in the parking area. There were no injuries or fatalities.
The suspect is a 28-year-old local resident who was walking around outside the synagogue acting very suspicious, according to witnesses. He fired off a round from a shotgun while making threatening statements. After the shots were fired, the police were called, and on the premises was an early childhood center with at least two dozen children, preschoolers, who were on the premises. The parents were contacted, the facility went immediately into lockdown, and as of this time, the parents have been able to retrieve their children, and the lockdown has been lifted. All the children have been released safely.
Federal law enforcement is currently leading the investigation, with the support of New York State Police, who were on site at the time, immediately following the incident, as well as the Albany Police. The New York State Hate Crimes [Task Force] is involved.
I immediately called the Rabbi, I knew this Rabbi because literally on October 7th, after the horrific attack on Israel, I went to the synagogue, and I spoke. So, I spoke with Dr. Rabbi Anderson tonight and assured her that the State of New York will do everything possible to restore the sense of security that her congregation needs at this time.
I will also be planning to attend at this time, Shabbat Services at this temple Friday evening. As we’ve talked about before, after the October 7th attacks, I’ve directed our State Police, as well as the National Guard, to be on high alert. They have been conducting surveillance and created a presence at synagogues, yeshivas, museums, cultural centers, all vulnerable targets throughout the State of New York ever since October 7th. And especially during the holiday season. As we begin Hanukkah tonight, I directed earlier this week that they continue to actually increase their presence at all these locations.
This builds on the significant efforts that we’ve already undertaken, making sure that we’ve mobilized State Police, invested tens of millions of dollars in additional security devices and measures, developed online strategies to help suppress hate at the source. Also, $50 million to help local law enforcement so they can do their job to protect our communities who are under siege at this time. We also made sure that the threat assessment teams are activated at every college and creating 36 county-based teams operating across New York.
In addition, I had previously asked former Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, Jonathan Lippman, to begin an investigation into antisemitism and hate crimes across SUNY and CUNY campuses.
The bottom line is this: the safety of Jewish New Yorkers is nonnegotiable. Every act, whether it’s verbal or physical, any act of antisemitism is unacceptable and undermining the public safety at our synagogue on the first night of Hanukkah is even more deplorable.
The prospect of violence in a place of worship is not just an attack on the building. It’s an attack on the very fabric of our society, our freedom to express our faith, our collective shared sense of safety. And I remind everyone, as New Yorkers, this is not who we are. This must stop. We reject hate, antisemitism, Islamophobia. All hate crimes must stop and all violence in every form must cease.
We have no tolerance for these acts of evil that have now permeated our society. And the rise in antisemitism that started centuries ago is dramatically on the rise in our own state since October 7th. It has increased and fueled the anxiety of Jewish New Yorkers throughout every corner of the state.
Thankfully, at this time, no one was injured in this incident. But the fear that it has wreaked, and the fear and the anxiety that it has caused, I know a lot of people are feeling really shaken right now. This wasn’t the first incident at Temple Israel. In September, it was one of multiple synagogues targeted with bomb threats.
And now to know there’s an individual who literally brought a gun – a loaded weapon – to their premises, shakes people to their core. They shouldn’t have to be so frightened. At a time, with this beautiful holiday about to commence, people should be relishing in the light of the world. That’s what the tradition is all about, the lighting of the candles.
This state must not descend into darkness. We need this light to shine bright. And if all New Yorkers stand up for each other, to defend each other’s dignity, respect each other’s differences – because that is what New York is to its very core and always will be. But we must protect it.
We will stand together against violence, bigotry and hatred, reaffirming our commitment to unity and understanding and protection. So, here’s my commitment to Jewish New Yorkers: we will not be intimidated into silence, we will not be threatened into submission, and we will celebrate every aspect of the great Jewish traditions, starting here with Hanukkah because these must be kept alive as they have been through centuries of persecution before.
We will tolerate no hate in the State of New York, and I will use every single resource as Governor of the State of New York at my disposal to make sure that everyone in the State of New York is safe. At this point, I’m going to ask Eva Wyner, the Deputy Director of Jewish Affairs, to join me in lighting the menorah for this first night of Hanukkah.
Eva traveled with me to Israel in the aftermath of October 7th. I want to thank her for her courage and for her willingness to stand up as a proud Jewish woman here in the State of New York. Thank you for your service to millions of New Yorkers, Eva, and I’ll let you have the honors.