The Los Angeles Police Department arrested a man Wednesday after he allegedly attempted to break into the home of a family of Jewish descent in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles and yelled antisemitic threats.
Daniel Garcia was arrested on suspicion of stalking and making criminal threats after he was accused of attempting to kick in the back door of the family’s home around 5 a.m. Wednesday, while dressed in only his underwear, according to an LAPD news release. The man was also heard screaming “Free Palestine” and “Kill Jews,” according to the statement. Authorities say they are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Garcia is being held at Van Nuys Jail in lieu of $225,000 bail. It was unclear at the time of publication if he had an attorney.
Police said detectives found that Garcia was possibly experiencing mental illness. Garcia acted alone and appeared to be motivated by the victims’ perceived religious beliefs, police said, adding that he may have had previous contact with the victims.
One of the victims, who has since come forward as Mendel Meyers, told NBC Los Angeles that he leapt from his bed after he and his wife were woken up by the sounds of someone breaking into the home. The person allegedly entered the bedroom, when Meyers confronted him and attempted to push him out. Meyers said his four children were also inside the home.
“I screamed at my wife, ‘Bring me my gun,’” Meyers, who told the outlet he doesn’t own a firearm, recalled. “I screamed, ‘I’m going to shoot you,’ and he got scared and picked up his arms and said, ‘Don’t shoot, don’t shoot,’ but he kept screaming, ‘Free Palestine, free Palestine’ and ‘Jewish people, you need to kill Jewish people.’”
Fox 11 cameras caught a man in the back seat of a police vehicle after the incident, yelling, “Free Palestine.”
Mayor Karen Bass condemned the incident as a “vile act of hate,” adding that the LAPD will continue to conduct increased patrols throughout the city amid the war in the Gaza Strip.
“The vile act of hate that took place this morning has no place in our City,” Bass said in a statement. “In the wake of the terror and violence inflicted over the previous weeks, this is one of the worst fears of Jewish families across our country — hatred spilling across the threshold, destroying the sense of safety and sanctuary in a home.”
National advocacy groups and government officials have cautioned Americans about a recent uptick in hate crimes against Muslims and Jews. In the weeks since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, members of both faith groups say they’ve been targeted and harassed. In Illinois, a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy, Wadea Al-Fayoume, died after allegedly being stabbed 26 times by his landlord. Local authorities said that he and his mother, who survived the attack, were targeted in an act of Islamophobia.
“We must without equivocation denounce antisemitism,” President Joe Biden said while addressing the nation last week. “We must also without equivocation denounce Islamophobia.”
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com