ALBANY, N.Y. - A man fired a shotgun twice outside a Jewish temple in upstate New York, hours before the start of Hanukkah on Thursday, then said "Free Palestine" as he was taken into custody, police said. No one was injured.
Gov. Hochul placed the New York State Police and New York National Guard on high alert after the incident.
The gunfire outside Temple Israel happened at around 2 p.m. and a 28-year-old man was in custody, according to officials. Police did not identify the man, but Gov. Kathy Hochul said he was a local resident.
"I am immediately directing the New York State Police and New York National Guard to be on high alert and increase the existing patrols of at-risk sites we had planned for the Hanukkah holiday, including at synagogues, yeshivas and community centers, and working closely with local law enforcement. This builds on the significant efforts we have taken to protect religious communities in the wake of the October 7 attacks. Make no mistake: the safety of Jewish New Yorkers is non-negotiable," Hochul said in a statement.
A passerby talked to the gunman near the temple about 10 minutes after the shots were fired. The man dropped the shotgun before officers arrived on the scene and detained him, Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins told reporters at the scene.
"We were told by responding officers that he made a comment, ‘Free Palestine,’" Hawkins said.
The chief said the episode was being investigated as a hate crime and that there was no indication other people were involved. The FBI office in Albany confirmed it was investigating along with other law enforcement agencies.
The episode took place amid rising fears of antisemitism worldwide and fallout from Israel’s intensifying war in Gaza, which faces heightened criticism for the mounting Palestinian death toll.
"Any act of antisemitism is unacceptable, and undermining public safety at a synagogue on the first night of Hanukkah is even more deplorable. As New Yorkers, we must stand united: this is not who we are. We reject hate, antisemitism and violence in all forms. And we have no tolerance for the forces of evil who are trying to tear our communities apart," Hochul said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.