MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A 60-year-old rabbi was shot to death Saturday morning on a northeast Miami-Dade street while he was walking to synagogue.
Miami-Dade Police said Joseph Raksin was walking on NE 175th Street near NE 8th Court at around 9:00 a.m. when two men went up to him.
Neighbors describe 60-year-old Raksin as an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi.
Jean Louis Denis ran to his window to see Raksin on the ground.
‘I saw a man dressed in black on the ground so I went out I asked my son-in-law to call emergency services and we went over there and tried to help the man,” said Denis. “As i came to the man I saw a shell on the ground so I realized he was shot.”
Neighbors said Raksin, was from New York visiting family in Northeast-Dade.
“He was coming in and out of consciousness and I talked a little bit to him he gave me his name that he was from New York and he told me two males were the people that did this,” added Denis. “I told him my name I told him to stay quiet and that everything was going to be fine and unfortunately it was different.”
The men were able to get away.
Raksin was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he later died.
Neighbors said Raksin’s son-in-law and grandchildren who were walking to synagogue a few blocks behind him heard the shot.
“The grandchildren heard and saw but did not realize it was their grandfather,” said Rabbi Moshe Druin.
As his family mourns, many in the primarily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in northeast-Dade are concerned.
“Especially after what happened in the synagogue two- weeks ago when there was graffiti on the wall,” said Gideon Gratsiani.
Neighbors are on edge after a swastika was painted at a nearby synagogue.
Police said they do not believe the murder of the rabbi was a hate crime, but many neighbors feel differently. They say it has only added to the fear and tension they feel.
The Anti-Defamation League released a statement Saturday afternoon from Hava Holzhauer, the ADL Regional Director which said: “This is a terrible tragedy. While the motivation for this crime is still being investigated, nothing can justify the killing of an innocent man walking to his place of worship to pray on his holy day. We appreciate the professionalism that the Miami-Dade Police Department has shown in securing all the evidence surrounding the crime and assuring that this investigation remains an exceptionally high priority. Let us hope that the culprits are swiftly apprehended and brought to justice. At this time, it appears to be a robbery that went badly. Currently no evidence has been brought to light that it was motivated by anti-Semitism. While our community is on high alert due to recent anti-Semitic incidents that have coincided with hostilities in the Middle East, we must be careful not to assume this was a hate-motivated crime unless or until such information is discovered and released by law enforcement.”
For Rabbi Druin, the crime is too close to home. “This is something out of the ordinary and that’s why the concern is growing here and as a result of seeing what’s going on in Europe and this is a very scary situation.”
“Whether or not a person is an Orthodox Jew, a Christian or a Muslim, the fact that they’re going to pray they’re going for a peaceful nature the fact that somebody can come out and for whatever reason not worth anything will just kill them in cold blood just speaks in a totally negative direction on itself,” Dr. Reynold Stein added.
Police say the subjects were young men and one of them was wearing a yellow shirt.
Anyone with information is urged to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS
Community members say they are also offering a $50,000 reward in the case.