After second antisemitic incident in two days, Huntsville authorities vow to find vandals

Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray outside Huntsville Chabad

With a second antisemitic attack on area Jewish institutions in less than 36 hours, Huntsville authorities are vowing to find and prosecute whoever is responsible — but would prefer that the perpetrator go ahead and turn himself in.

In today’s 11 a.m. press conference outside Huntsville’s Chabad center, which is also the residence for the family of Chabad Rabbi Moshe Cohen, Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray said numerous specialists, including video forensics specialists and cell phone specialists, are already working to track down the vandals. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also working on the case.

“We do have a bunch of evidence collected already,” McMurray said.

Huntsville Police released this image from outside Chabad

Etz Chayim, in southern Huntsville, was tagged with antisemitic graffiti in numerous locations the night of April 8 to 9, the first night of Passover. The Chabad house was hit around 1 a.m. on April 10, the second night of Passover. While more than one person is suspected to have taken part at Etz Chayim, the Chabad attack seems to be the work of one person.

After both incidents, volunteers from area churches joined with members of the Jewish community to remove the graffiti and repair any damage.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said “We’re going to do everything in our power to bring someone to justice.”

Addressing the vandals, McMurray said “we’re asking for you to go ahead and turn yourself in.” If not, there is a reward through Crimestoppers, where one can leave an anonymous tip. If the tip leads to an arrest and conviction, the tipster, who remains anonymous, can collect a reward. Currently, McMurray said, about $2,000 has been contributed toward the reward, and “people are donating to Crimestoppers just for this purpose.”

The Crimestoppers number is (256) 53-CRIME.

The multi-agency crime center will continue to go through the evidence, McMurray said, and “we hope to have a capture pretty quickly.”

Battle visited Chabad to “tell them our deep heartfelt sorrow that this would happen anywhere in the world, and most importantly, it happened in Huntsville.”

Calling the attacks “senseless, thoughtless and stupid,” Battle added, “We do not condone this. We are not that community,” and Huntsville is going to “make sure we protect our community and stand with them.”