MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade Police held a news conference Monday morning regarding the murder of an Orthodox rabbi who was shot as he walked to temple Saturday morning. At the same time, police are also investigating symbols of hate which were found scrawled on an SUV owned by the wife of another South Florida rabbi, according to a Jewish community activist.
Rabbi Joseph Raksin, who was visiting family from New York, was shot to death Saturday morning while walking to a synagogue.
At the news conference Monday, Major Hector Llevat, head of the department’s homicide bureau, said the department has a full homicide team working on the case along with a Northend street violence task force.
Major Llevat said there are some leads that they are following but would not release any details about those leads.
He wanted to stress that police need information from the community.
“The more information we get the better. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s insignificant, if you heard something, if you know somebody, any information that you have that could potentially connect the dots to bring these people to justice,” said Llevat. “We share in the community’s urgency to find the perpetrators of this act. We that being said, we as a police department need additional information. We know there are those in the community that may be witnesses, that potentially heard something or know who committed this act. We need those individuals to come forward and contact the Miami-Dade Police Department with information they may have. They can call the Homicide bureau at (305) 471-2400 or if they wish to remain anonymous, they can contact Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS.
Police said earlier that two young men are the subjects of the investigation, but they have not been identified. They were seen in the community and leaving the area of NE 175th Street near NE 8th Court following the shooting around 9:00 a.m.
Llevat said there is no clear motive at this point.
“It would appear initially, early observations that it could be perhaps a robbery. This gentleman was an observant religious man and so information is that he would not have a wallet or anything of value on him at that moment.”
Many in the community question whether this should be considered a hate crime.
“Right now, there are no indications that it was a hate crime or related to a hate crime, however, we are not closing that door and we’re not ruling anything out,” said Llevat.
However, two symbols of hate were discovered scrawled on an SUV owned by the wife of a South Florida rabbi.
The couple, who attended a service for Rabbi Raksin on Sunday, found a swastika and a cross from the Nazi’s uniform, scratched into their BMW when they returned home.
Llevat said police are aware of the incident and are currently investigating.
There is also outrage in the Jewish community over another incident a couple of weeks ago in which a nearby synagogue was vandalized with a swastika, and “Hamas” written underneath it.
Many in the community feel the rabbi was targeted for his religion.
Rabbi Phinnaeus A. Weberman, a Miami-Dade Police Chaplain also spoke out at the department’s news conference, saying he trusts police will do what’s right in all of the cases.
“We have confidence in the Miami-Dade Police Department, particularly their homicide division and we know that they are doing everything professionally, efficiently and they also have the assistance of the federal and municipal law enforcement agencies and they’re working very hard to solve this crime and to prevent any other tragedies such as this from happening. So I speak to the community, look with courage, pray for enlightenment and as we pray for the peace and law and order in our community we join the rest of the world in praying for law and order in the world over,” said Rabbi Weberman. “So be with courage and have confidence in the professionalism of these law enforcement personnel, have patience and ultimately the light will over power the darkness.”
Rabbi Raksin was visiting South Florida from Brooklyn and was a member of Chabad Crown Heights.
He was here to celebrate his 60th birthday with his daughter and son-in-law.
His son and law and grandchildren were walking just blocks behind him when he was killed.
“I came after the fact,” said Izzy, who did not want to give his last name. “Saw my father-in-law on the ground, my kids saw him on the ground. Thank God they didn’t know it was him at the time.”
In Brooklyn Monday, hundreds of mourners turned out at the New York funeral procession for Rabbi Raksin.
A crowd surrounded the hearse on a blocked-off street as it pulled up outside the Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in Crown Heights.