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Security stepped up after Jewish center stabbing

December 10, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Authorities are stepping up security at the headquarters of an international Jewish organization in Brooklyn after a mentally ill man wandered inside the library and stabbed a student in the head before he was shot and killed by police.

Calvin Peters, 49, was seen on amateur video waving a knife in the Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters at 1:40 a.m. Tuesday after the attack on Levi Rosenblat. The 22-year-old, wounded on the side of the head, was listed in stable condition.

New York City police said the stabbing was not believed to be connected to terrorism. But it shook the Jewish community, still reeling over an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue by two Palestinian cousins last month that left four worshippers and an officer dead.

Police Commissioner William Bratton said the department was already on heightened alert based on the incidents in Israel. His deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, John Miller, said there was an increased presence at religious locations.

New York state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, whose Brooklyn constituents are largely Orthodox Jews, said synagogues may want to start taking stronger security precautions. “Maybe it is time for synagogues ... to figure out, if someone walks in with a knife, how do you defend yourself?”

Chabad-Lubavitch officials said security was tightened, but didn’t elaborate.

Officers repeatedly shouted at Peters to drop his weapon. He was shot after lunging at an officer with the knife, police said.

At least one witness said he heard Peters repeatedly saying, “Kill the Jews!” according to Rabbi Chaim Landa, a Chabad-Lubavitch spokesman. Police quoted Peters as saying instead, “I’m going to kill all of you.”

Peters had a history of mental illness and had been arrested 19 times since 1982, most recently in 2006 for drugs, police said.

Next-door neighbor Lorraine McCartney called Peters “a very nice man” who had attended parties in her backyard. “I would never believe that of him. Never,” she said.

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Associated Press writers Jake Pearson, Tom Hays, Colleen Long, Deepti Hajela, Verena Dobnik and Frank Eltman contributed to this story, along with AP researcher Rhonda Shafner.

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