During the Jewish Passover holiday the Highland Park Fourth of July Parade gunman tried to get into a synagogue. The synagogue’s Rabbi turned him away. Yosef Schanowitz ,, the rabbi of the synagogue, recalled the incident after he saw the photo of the Highland Park suspect released to the news media.
Highland Park is an affluent suburb about 25 miles from downtown Chicago. The community has a large Jewish population, around 50 percent of the suburb’s population. The shooter fired his first shots at people during the Fourth of July Parade. At that moment, Maxwell Street Klezmer Band rode on a flatbed truck and performed a traditional Jewish Klezmer marriage song. Klezmer, a musical style that originated in Central and Eastern Europe from the Ashkenazi Jews, is now very popular both in Europe as well as the United States.
A Chabad synagogue stood on the parade route – Rabbi Schanowitz’s synagogue at Central Avenue Synagogue.
Chabad, an Orthodox Jewish religious organization that originated in the Russian city of Lubavitch. Chabad actually refers to an acronym made from three Hebrew words, wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Chabad-Lubavitch is sometimes used to refer to Chabad congregations.
According reports , When the wife of the Chabad Rabbi heard that the shooting had occurred, the rabbi raced outside to get four young boys to help him prepare a Chabad booth to be used in the parade. After escorting them inside the synagogue to safety, the rabbi raced on to Highland Park Hospital where he was a volunteer Chaplain. He comforted both the families and the injured at the hospital.
The alleged shooter was identified as Robert (Bobby) Crimo III of Highland Park. He went to Central Avenue Synagogue in order to escape from slavery during Passover. The Passover holiday, which celebrates the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt, took place between April 15 and April 23, 2022.
Crimo was turned away by the security guard and the rabbi, both of whom were armed. They aren’t sure if Crimo tried to enter the synagogue.
The motive behind the shooting on July 4, 2012 has yet to be revealed by police. However, the police have not yet determined a motive for the July 4 shooting.
Synagogue security is difficult for many reasons, just like security at churches. Many religions welcome new worshippers. This is why they have an open-door policy. As attacks have increased on religious sites in America and around the world, however, this policy of “open-door” has been gradually replaced by an “on guard” one, at least for those worshipping in places where security is in place.
Crimo could have visited the synagogue to check on the security. Potential shooters are not uncommon to attempt to photograph services and hang out in buildings. Potential shooters may have taken photos of the exteriors of churches, synagogues and mosques in some instances. Others try to get along with unassuming congregants. Others claim that they’re there to pray, find God, or get hot food.
A good example was at Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville (near Dallas), Texas in January. Mark Faisal Akram from England, claimed to be homeless and began a conversation before the start of religious services. Akram, an armed man, took the congregants captive and started making demands. The hostages escaped after Akram threatened to kill them. After that, the FBI invaded the synagogue and executed Akram.
A few days before, Akram attempted the same trick at Irving’s Islamic Center Mosque. Akram claimed he was homeless, and that he wanted to stay in the mosque. He was eventually sent home after an argument.
All too often small, unrelated incidents happen all over the country. A young man carrying a backpack arrived at the synagogue in Columbus, Ohio. During his attempt to get into the synagogue, he was confronted. He didn’t give the correct name. The man was then turned away. The incident was reported to the local police, who then notified FBI. We may not know if this young man is a threat to our safety, but such incidents seem more frequent.
Perhaps the two most essential things you should remember are deterrence and vigilance. Unknown persons may try to get into a church, but it is also possible to challenge those “hanging around” in religious buildings (including daycare centers and churches).
Deterrence is having an armed guard. This would be preferably in uniform and with a visible gun, like at the Central Avenue Synagogue. The mass shooting in Pittsburgh and Poway, California might not have occurred if there had been an armed guard.
One important warning: Security volunteers and staff of churches, mosques, and synagogues should be cautious about approaching unarmed people who might pose a threat to their safety. This is a job that security professionals should do.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Dr. Stephen Bryen, a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy, is regarded as a thought-leader in technology security policy. He has twice been awarded the Distinguished Public Service Medal, which is the highest civilian honor from the Defense Department. His most recent book, “Technology Security and National Power” is his senior thesis at the Center for Security Policy.