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The Baltimore Sun

Police investigating shooting tragedy

The Miami-Dade Police Department is investigating the murder of Orthodox Rabbi Joseph Raksin from Brooklyn who was gunned down while walking to Bais Menachem Chabad in North Miami Beach on Saturday morning, Aug. 9.

"I can assure you that the Miami Dade Police Department is utilizing all its resources to apprehend the perpetrators of this heinous crime," said Chief Alfredo Ramirez during a news conference at the department in Doral.

Miami-Dade Police said they were looking for two men, one who was wearing a yellow shirt and the other one wearing an orange shirt, who walked away after shooting Raksin, who was in town visiting family. Maj. Hector Llevat of the police department's homicide bureau told reporters while answering questions that this point of the investigation is very preliminary and until they have additional information, they won't know for certain what the motive of the crime was.

"Right now there are no indications it's a hate crime or related to a hate crime," Llevat said. "However, we're not closing that door and we're not ruling anything out."

The Anti-Defamation League has been in close contact with the lead investigators on this case from the police department.

"This is a terrible tragedy," said Hava Holzhauer, ADL's Florida Regional director, in a statement she issued. "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."

Shmuel Druin, an Orthodox Jew who lives a few blocks away from where the shooting tragedy occurred and who walked to the shul approximately 45 minutes before the crime happened, doesn't think there is enough police presence in the area where one block is under the jurisdiction of one police department, Miami-Dade, and the other block is under the jurisdiction of a different department, North Miami Beach. He also doesn't think the police departments are taking full responsibility since they're writing this shooting tragedy off as a botched robbery in a predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood during the Sabbath when Jews don't carry wallets. He also feels there needs to be more security in the area considering the recent anti-Semitic incidents and a slew of robberies where no one has been apprehended.

"Most Jews in those blocks don't have security cameras so these things are happening and the police haven't beefed up their security even though they know that these things are happening," Druin said

Two weeks ago, Congregation Torah V'Emunah, an Orthodox synagogue in North Miami Beach located near the scene of the shooting tragedy, was defaced with the word "Hamas" and images of swastikas. Llevat assured reporters that the investigation remains open and active by their counterparts at the Intracoastal Division. Maj. Saima Plasencia of the Intracoastal District said that in that particular neighborhood, they have increased patrols since the defacing of the synagogue. She said that although law enforcement has a great responsibility to solve crimes and prevent them from occurring, they need the help of the community as well. Another incident took place Sunday when a swastika and an Iron Cross were itched on a BMW owned by an attendee of a farewell memorial for Raksin at Bais Menachem Chabad. Llevat assured reporters that the police is investigating this incident.

The police department is asking anyone with information to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.

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