Man Fatally Shot by Police After Stabbing Rabbinical Student in Synagogue

Posted on 09 December 2014 by Josh Fallik

DNAinaBy Trevor Kapp and Aidan Gardiner  on December 9, 2014


CROWN HEIGHTS — Police shot and killed a knife-wielding man after he stabbed a 22-year-old rabbinical student in the head at the Eastern Parkway headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish community, the NYPD said.

Calvin Peters, 49, had a history of “emotionally disturbed” behavior and had visited 770 Eastern Parkway earlier Monday afternoon, police said. He then returned to the house of worship near Kingston Avenue about 1:40 a.m. Tuesday morning with a serrated 9-inch kitchen knife in hand, police said.

CHLubavOnce inside, Peters stabbed 22-year-old Levi Rosenblat, an Israeli student, in the left temple, according to a Chabad statement.

“The left side of his face was all cut up and bloody. He was screaming,” said Chaim Grossbaum, a yeshiva student who was picking up a friend from 770 Eastern Parkway during the attack.

“He was conscious, but I don’t think he realized how badly he was hurt,” Grossbaum added.

Rosenblat was in stable condition at Kings County Hospital, officials said.

The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force was investigating the stabbing after witnesses reported hearing Peters saying “Kill the Jews,” officials and Chabad said.

Officers who had been posted at a nearby intersection raced into the building after a bystander came and told them what was happening, police said.

In dramatic video of the incident, Peters roamed around a darkened room filled with books shouting at nearby men, “You want me to kill you?” until officers arrived with their guns drawn.

There was a brief standoff as officers demanded Peters drop his knife while others tried to tell the officers not to shoot, the video shows.

“You going to shoot me?” Peters asked at one point.

“If you don’t drop the knife, I will,” the officer replied.

Peters eventually placed the knife on a nearby table and walked away, prompting the officer to holster his weapon and step forward, the video shows.

But as he did so, Peters then turned and snatched the blade again and lunged for the same officer, who had redrawn his gun while shouting, “Drop the f—ing knife!” according to police and the video.

An officer fired a single shot into Peters’ torso, police said.

He was pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital, according to the NYPD.

Witnesses said that Peters had tried to enter 770 Eastern Parkway about 5:45 p.m. Monday but was rebuffed.

“He definitely didn’t look like he belonged. He stood out. He had on full casual attire and went straight for the synagogue door,” said Shimon Liberow, a synagogue member.

Liberow asked if he could help Peters, to which Peters replied “No, do you have a problem?”

Other members tried to explain that the building was for Jewish religious services, so Peters asked, “Can I pray?” and when they further explained that only Jews were allowed to pray, he asked, “Can I convert?” before abruptly leaving, according to Liberow.

“He didn’t look crazy like he was on drugs, but the exchange was just weird,” Liberow said.

“While we are very pained by everything that has unfolded, we are very grateful to the police for their quick response,” said Rabbi Motti Seligson, a Chabad spokesman, in a written statement.

“We commend the heroic efforts of the individuals who were present and took immediate action, if not for their intervention the outcome could have been, G-d forbid far worse,” Seligson added. “We continue to pray for the young man who is in stable condition.”

Police said the attack was likely an isolated incident, and not terror related, but they still planned to boost their presence at houses of worship throughout the city on Tuesday.

Along with the Hate Crime Task Force, the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau and Brooklyn District Attorney’s office were investigating the fatal police shooting, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said.

“The shooting, while unfortunate, may have been unavoidable,” Bratton said.

With reporting by Rachel Holliday Smith and Sybile Penhirin

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