A 37-year old man who police say entered a Berkeley, California synagogue on Saturday and yelled threatening anti-Semitic statements was arrested in connection with a hate crime.
After leaving Congregation Netivot Shalom, the man was later found by officers in front of a nearby Chabad House screaming at the entrance to the building that he had not been allowed inside, reported CBS SF BayArea.
Police arrested the man on suspicion of willfully threatening a person based on their perceived characteristics – the charge is considered a hate crime.
The suspect was identified as Anatoly Smolkin, a former lawyer who according to court records has a history of stalking and mental health issues, reported Berkeleyside.
Berkeley police spokesperson Officer Byron White told the news site that Smolkin, who has no permanent address on file, was refused entry into the Chabad House after leaving the synagogue.
According to media reports, Smolkin allegedly walked into Congregation Netivot Shalom, interrupting Shabbat services.
He proceeded to yell that Jews were “going to burn in hell” and that they were “going to pay for what you did to me.”
The Chabad where Smolkin was arrested was located a half mile away from the synagogue.
Smolkin was also arrested on suspicion of using offensive words on school property due to the presence of a classroom at the Chabad House.
“The suspect (a 37-year-old man) was arrested on suspicion of willfully threatening a person based on their perceived characteristics. Willfully threatening a person based on their perceived characteristics is considered a hate crime,” Berkeley police said in a statement.
“The Berkeley Police Department recognizes and places a high priority on the rights of all individuals guaranteed under state and federal law. The commission of a hate crime is a serious offense, which will not be tolerated in the City of Berkeley,” they added.