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Police Say Slaying Not ‘Hate Crime’

July 16, 2002

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TORONTO (AP) _ Police say no evidence so far indicates a Jewish man was murdered because of his religion, but the community that buried him Monday believes David Rosenzweig was the victim of a hate crime.

Rosenzweig, a father of six who was wearing a skull cap at the time of the attack, was killed in the predawn hours of Sunday _ his 49th birthday _ outside a kosher pizza restaurant in a Jewish section of Toronto.

Witnesses said the assailant was a young man with a shaved head who stabbed Rosenzweig in the back with a 12-inch knife.

Police issued a first-degree murder warrant for Christopher McBride, 20, and also were looking for a female suspect. Another man was detained and questioned, then released.

The killing evoked immediate condemnation in Canada and Israel, with Israeli newspapers and Web sites giving it prominent play. Toronto police Sgt. Jim Muscat said he held more than a dozen interviews with Israeli media.

Monday newspapers in Canada ran the story on the front page under banner headlines, including one in the tabloid Toronto Sun that read, ``Coward kills father of six.″

Prime Minister Jean Chretien said in a statement that ``such displays of intolerance and hate offend the values we believe in as Canadians.″

A Toronto police spokesman, however, said the initial investigation failed to uncover a link between the killing and Rosenzweig’s religion.

``The evidence and research that we’ve done does not support this as being a hate-related crime,″ Staff Insp. Bob Clarke said.

Jewish officials, however, had little doubt about the motive. Keith Landy, president of the Ottawa-based Canadian Jewish Congress, issued a statement that called the ``apparent anti-Semitic murder″ unprecedented in Canada.

According to Police Chief Julian Fantino, two men and a woman entered the pizza restaurant on Sunday night and became involved in an argument. Witnesses said they insulted the owner and customers.

Fantino said the suspects left the restaurant, then returned later, ``at which time the victim was stabbed to death at the side of the street.″

Fantino said Rosenzweig had nothing to do with the earlier altercation in the restaurant.

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