NORTH MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Just days before the start of the Jewish High Holy Days, detectives believe they have identified “some of the people involved” in Rabbi Joseph Raksin’s murder according to Miami-Dade Police Director JD Patterson.
“We’re trying to build a case,” Patterson told CBS4 News. “We do think we have some sense of some of the people involved, I’ll just put it that way. But we still have to build a case before we can actually formally charge anybody. And we won’t do that in isolation, we’ll do that in cooperation [with the State Attorney’s Office].”
Raksin was shot to death walking to a North Miami Beach synagogue on August 9. The 60-year-old rabbi from Brooklyn was in South Florida visiting his daughter. His killing set off prayers and vigils from Miami to New York.
Although police have devoted considerable resources to the investigation, they have released few details. Witnesses reported seeing two men fleeing the area.
Patterson’s comments came Friday afternoon during a taping of Facing South Florida. Patterson told CBS4’s Jim DeFede his detectives have been presenting the evidence they’ve gathered to prosecutors.
Police and prosecutors often work side by side on big cases – especially after suspects have been identified. Detectives often want to make the arrest as quickly as possible while prosecutors are more cautious wanting to wait so they can build a case that will guarantee a conviction.
Patterson said police and prosecutors have been working well together on this case. He said he believed they were close to making an arrest – although it could still be weeks away.
“We are in fact making progress, we are in fact going forward,” Patterson said. “Sometimes you have to think that a police department’s position is to make the case, bring the information, and bring the evidence, and bring the statements to the State Attorney’s Office for review and for consultation. So we are at a point where we’re talking with the State Attorney.”
Patterson knows the community is frustrated an arrest has not been made. But he said investigators have to do what’s right.
“Every now and then it takes a while it’s not an easy thing to do and it’s not something you want to rush, because you only have one opportunity. You can’t charge somebody twice,” he said. “So you basically want to be deliberate, be methodical, be consistent and I do believe we put the effort in all our cases. This one is just one that’s very complicated because of the fact that it has all sorts of religious overtones, all kinds of national overtones, we just want to do it right.”
Based on everything his detectives have learned, Patterson said he the killing was not motivated by religious bigotry.
“No I don’t believe it was a hate crime, I definitely do not believe it was a hate crime,” he said. “I’m not even certain if it was completely a robbery, because I do know that based on the religious practices of the religion, they don’t even carry things of value. Again I’m not really sure what it was, but it definitely was not a hate crime.”
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