FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Fresno police are investigating a pair of Tuesday morning incidents as potential acts of hate against the Jewish people.
Surveillance video we obtained showed a man tossing what appeared to be two rocks into the window of Noah’s Ark Restaurant and Bakery.
Around 8:30 a.m. an employee found two broken windows, and a handwritten message, left on a newspaper, that threatened Jewish-owned businesses.
Two-and-a-half hours earlier around 6 a.m., Fresno Police say a Temple Beth Israel worker discovered a window also broken by a rock, as a backpack with several other rocks was left behind. This is being investigated as a hate incident.
“We are not gonna stand by and let anybody commit acts of violence, threaten any acts of violence, or try and intimidate community members based upon race, ethnicity, whatever it might be,” said Lt. Bill Dooley, public information officer for Fresno Police.
Rabbi Rick Winer of Temple Beth Israel says the broken glass is alarming, but pales in comparison to the horrors going on in the Middle East.
“Those of us who have friends, family in Israel, who are dealing with horrific terrorist action. You know, they have loved ones who have been murdered and people who have been taken hostage, and a broken window just doesn’t compare. But that’s the point of terror,” said Rabbi Winer.
The family that owns Noah’s Ark, who are actually Armenian Christians, tell us they believe the person responsible mistook the name “Noah’s Ark” for a Jewish business.
They say either way, nobody deserves to be violently targeted.
“I don’t think that any people no matter their culture, background, or ethnicity should be targeted. We all came here for a better life, better benefits here in the United States,” said Ani Baghramyan, whose family owns the shop.
The Fresno Police Department plans to increase patrols both in the area of Temple Beth Israel and Noah’s Ark Restaurant and Bakery.
While the incident at Noah’s Ark is being investigated as a hate crime, due to the note to the note left behind, the incident at the Temple Beth Israel is being investigated as a hate incident.
However, police say if they can link the two together, it could mean severe penalties for the suspect.
“If we can show a nexus between the two if we can join them, and if there’s anything else that could have occurred that we’re just not aware of yet, then yes, that can actually be tacked on as a hate crime,” said Lt. Dooley.
The Fresno Police Department asks anyone with more information on either incident to call them at 559-621-7000.