Shootings Targeting American Jews
(1999 - Present)
All but one of 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 53 federal criminal counts, including 24 hate-crime charges, 11 counts of using a firearm to kill, four counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer, and three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence. The charges carry a maximum penalty of death or 535 years in federal prison. As of the three-year anniversary in 2021, Bowers had still not been tried.
2019: Chabad of Poway, San Diego, California
Date: April 27, 2019
On the last day of Passover, 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 who was shot in both hands and lost a finger.
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. In a recording of a 911 call the suspect made minutes after allegedly fleeing the scene of the synagogue shooting, the shooter can be heard telling a dispatcher, “They’re destroying our people. I’m trying to show them that we’re not going to go down without a fight....I’m defending my nation against the Jewish people, who are trying to destroy all white people.’’
Earnest was charged with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder. In July 2021, Earnest pleaded guilty and was sentenced on September 30 to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus an additional 121 years to life and another 16 years as part of a plea agreement reached with the San Diego County District Attorney‘s Office. He also pleaded guilty to an additional 113 federal charges. By pleading guilty in federal court, Earnest will avoid capital punishment. Federal prosecutors are seeking a federal prison term of life in prison, plus 30 years, when he is sentenced December 28, 2021, in San Diego federal court.
2019: JC Kosher Supermarket, Jersey City, New Jersey
Date: December 10, 2019
Dead: 2 and one non-Jew
shooting took place at the JC Kosher Supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey. Five people were killed at the store, including the two assailants. Additionally, the assailants wounded one customer and two police officers. Mindy Ferencz, the 33-year-old store owner was killed, along with 24-year-old rabbinical student customer Moshe Deutsch, and a non-Jewish employee, 49-year-old Douglas Miguel Rodriguez. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal stated that evidence indicated the attacks were acts of hate and domestic terrorism fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs.
2019: 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. Josef Neumann, the most gravely wounded victim, died on March 29, 2020. 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.
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.
On April 20, 2020, a federal judge ruled that Thomas, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, was incompetent to stand trial on federal charges and ordered him to be hospitalized in a mental facility. In April 2021, the court again found him unfit to stand trial and was to be confined to a state-run mental institution.
2021: Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, Texas
Date: January 16, 2021
On January 16, 2021, Malik Faisal Akram, a British national, took four members of Congregation Beth Israel hostage during Shabbat services. One hostage was released and the other three, including the rabbi, escaped just before the 10-hour standoff ended with law enforcement officers storming the building and killing Akram. The FBI considered it “a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted.” Akram told hostage negotiators he wanted the United States to free Aafia Siddiqui, a convicted terrorist serving an 86-year prison sentence in a Texas facility.
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.
Rebecca Liebson, Neil Vigdor, Michael Gold and Eliza Shapiro, “5 Wounded in Stabbing at Rabbi’s Home in N.Y. Suburb,” New York Times, (December 28, 2019).
Marcy Oster, “Jersey City kosher store shooters had powerful bomb and planned to target Jews and police,” JTA, (January 14, 2020).
Larry Celona and Kenneth Garger, “Monsey Hanukkah stabbing victim Josef Neumann dies three months after attack,” New York Post, (March 30, 2020).
Ben Sales, “Accused Monsey stabber again found unfit to stand trial,” JTA, (April, 10, 2021).
Christina Bravo, “Survivors, Loved Ones Describe ‘Pure Evil' of Poway Synagogue Shooter at Sentencing,” NBC 7, (September 30, 2021).
Eliott C. McLaughlin, Travis Caldwell, Kacey Cherry and Amir Vera, “The FBI is investigating the Texas hostage standoff as a ‘terrorism-related’ incident, the agency says,” CNN, (January 17, 2022).