These attacks are treated here as hate crimes rather than acts of terrorism because they appear to have targeted Jews due to anti-Semitism rather than a political agenda.
1999 Jewish Community Center, Los Angeles, California
Date: Aug. 10, 1999
Dead: 1 non-Jew
Neo-Nazi Buford O’Neal Furrow wounded five people, including three children at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles. After leaving the JCC, he later killed Joseph Illeto, a Filipino-American mail worker. Furrow surrendered to the FBI and said he hoped his attack would inspire others to target Jews. He was sentenced to life in prison.
2006 Jewish Federation, Seattle, Washington
Date: July 28, 2006
Naveed Afzal Haq killed one woman, Pamela Waechter, and wounded five others at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. Haq said that he was a Muslim who was angry at Israel. He eventually surrendered to the police. He received a life sentence.
2009 U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.
Date: June 10, 2009
James Wenneker von Brunn entered the museum in Washington, D.C., and fatally shot security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns. Two other security guards shot back, wounding von Brunn. Wenneker was a white supremacist and Holocaust denier who had self-published a book in which he praised Adolf Hitler. He died before he was sentenced.
2014 Jewish Community Center, Overland Park, Kansas
Date: April 13, 2014
White supremacist Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. shot people in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and fired shots into the JCC building. He then went to a nearby Jewish retirement community, Village Shalom, where he also shot at people in a parking lot. Though his intended targets were Jews, the three people he killed were non-Jewish visitors. He was sentenced to death and is currently on death row.
2018 Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Date: October 27, 2018
The alleged gunman, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, killed 11 people in the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history. Six people, including four police officers were wounded. Bowers was wounded in a firefight with police before surrendering. He reportedly shouted during the rampage, “All these Jews need to die.” Bowers’ social media account was filled with anti-Semitic postings. Just before entering the synagogue, he wrote: “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” Bowers is charged with 29 criminal counts, including 11 federal hate-crime charges. Another 11 counts of using a firearm to kill carry a maximum penalty of death.
2019: Chabad of Poway, San Diego, California
Date: April 27, 2019
John T. Earnest, 19, walked into a Chabad synagogue near San Diego and opened fire, leaving Lori Gilbert Kaye, 60, dead and three other people injured, including the rabbi, on the last day of Passover. Earnest posted an anti-Jewish open letter on a far-right message board hours before the attack. Earnest cited the murder of worshippers at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the accused killer in the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh as inspirations. Earnest was charged with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder. If convicted, he could face the death penalty because he is accused of killing a woman because of her religious beliefs.
2020: Home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, Monsey, New York
Date: December 28, 2019
During a Hanukkah party at the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg, a masked African American man wielding an 18-inch machete broke in began stabbing the guests. Five people were wounded, two of whom were hospitalized in critical condition. Party guests forced the assailant to flee by wielding chairs and a small table. The suspect’s car was spotted by a license plate reader on the George Washington Bridge nearly two hours later, and the suspect was taken into custody without incident by New York City police. The suspect, Grafton E. Thomas, 37, was arraigned in a Rockland County court and pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and one count of first-degree burglary. The suspect was also charged with a federal hate crime. Bail was set at $5 million. Investigators found handwritten journals in his home expressing anti-Semitic views, including material about Adolf Hitler, “Nazi culture,” and drawings of a Star of David and of a swastika among Thomas’s possessions. Josef Neumann, the most gravely wounded victim, died on March 29, 2020. He was 72. Thomas may now face new charges.
Sources: “11 dead, 6 injured in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting,” JTA, (October 27, 2018);
Josefin Dolsten, “4 other recent shootings that have targeted the Jewish community,” JTA, (October 27, 2018);
Ashley May and Josh Hafner, “Pittsburgh synagogue shooting: What we know, questions that remain,” USA Today, (October 29, 2018);
Jason Hanna and Darran Simon, “The suspect in Poway synagogue shooting used an assault rifle and had extra magazines, prosecutors said,” CNN, (April 30, 2019);
“Monsey Hanukkah stabbing,” Wikiwand;
Larry Celona and Kenneth Garger, “Monsey Hanukkah stabbing victim Josef Neumann dies three months after attack,” New York Post, (March 30, 2020).