crimesider

New York rabbi shot and killed in Miami en route to synagogue

Rabbi Joseph Raksin in an undated photo CBS Miami

MIAMI - A 60-year-old rabbi was shot to death Saturday morning on a northeast Miami-Dade street while he was walking to synagogue.

Miami-Dade Police said Joseph Raksin was walking at around 9:00 a.m. when two men confronted him, reports CBS Miami.

Jean Louis Denis, who lives nearby, ran to his window to see Raksin on the ground.

"I saw a man dressed in black on the ground so I went out I asked my son-in-law to call emergency services and we went over there and tried to help the man," said Denis.

He said a shell casing near Raksin made him realize there had been a shooting.

"He was coming in and out of consciousness and I talked a little bit to him. He gave me his name, that he was from New York and he told me two males were the people that did this," added Denis. "I told him my name I told him to stay quiet and that everything was going to be fine and unfortunately it was different."

The men were able to get away.

Neighbors describe 60-year-old Raksin as an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi who was from New York and in town visiting family.

Raksin was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he later died.

Neighbors said Raksin's son-in-law and grandchildren were walking to synagogue a few blocks behind him when they heard the shooting.

"The grandchildren heard and saw but did not realize it was their grandfather," said Rabbi Moshe Druin.

As his family mourns, many in the primarily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in northeast-Dade are concerned.

"Especially after what happened in the synagogue two- weeks ago when there was graffiti on the wall," said Gideon Gratsiani.

Neighbors are on edge after a swastika was painted at a nearby synagogue.

Police said they do not believe the murder of the rabbi was a hate crime, but many neighbors feel differently. They say it has only added to the fear and tension they feel.

The Anti-Defamation League released a statement Saturday afternoon from Hava Holzhauer, the ADL Regional Director which said: "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."

For Rabbi Druin, the crime is too close to home.

"This is something out of the ordinary and that's why the concern is growing here and as a result of seeing what's going on in Europe...this is a very scary situation," Druin said.

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.