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Security Stepped Up At Brooklyn Synagogue After Stabbing

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Police have increased security at a Brooklyn synagogue after, authorities said, a mentally ill man stabbed a student in the head before being shot and killed by police.

Officers stood guard throughout the day Wednesday outside the Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in Crown Heights Wednesday after members of the Jewish community gathered at Bellevue Hospital Center Tuesday praying for a speedy recovery for rabbinical student Levi Rosenblatt.

NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill visited the synagogue on Wednesday to discuss the security improvements.

Around 1:40 a.m. Tuesday, 49-year-old Calvin Peters wandered into the center and stabbed Rosenblatt, 22, as he was studying, police said. Part of the incident was caught on cellphone video.

Security Stepped Up At Brooklyn Synagogue After Stabbing

Police Officer Timothy Donohue was first on the scene.

In video of the incident posted online, Peters can be seen holding a knife in his right hand while surrounded by bystanders and officers with weapons drawn telling him to drop the knife.

Peters can be seen yelling at bystanders, asking one man in the video, "Want me to kill you?"

At one point, Peters puts the knife down on a table and Donohue holsters his gun. But moments later, Peters grabbed the knife again and starts to walk around the room as officers yell at him repeatedly to drop the knife.

Security Stepped Up At Brooklyn Synagogue After Stabbing

That was when he lunged at one of the cops and Officer Roberto Pagan fired one shot, hitting Peters in the torso, police said.

Video shows Peters lying on the ground alive as officers put him in handcuffs. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Levi Rosenblatt
Levi Rosenblatt (credit: Chabad)

Rosenblatt, who was stabbed in the left temple, was taken to the hospital and was in serious but stable condition Wednesday, CBS2's Andrea Grymes reported.

On Wednesday night, his mother, Reizi Rosenblatt, arrived from Israel to be with her son at Bellevue Hospital Center.

Brooklyn Rabbinical Student Mother
Reizi Rosenblatt, the mother of Brooklyn rabbinical student Levi Rosenblatt, came from Israel to Bellevue Hospital Center after her son was stabbed by a man who was later shot dead by police. (Credit: CBS2)

"Tears in the mom's eyes, and the uncle's eyes," said family friend Yingy Bistritzky. "And she was happy to see and hear her son - because our communications - you still doubt when people are telling you things and until you see the real thing, you don't trust it 100 percent."

Rabbi Eli Cohen of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council said there is much concern for the victim, who is visiting from Israel.

"We'll pray for the speedy recovery," Cohen told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond.

Rosenblatt's mother was flying from Israel on Wednesday to be by his side.

An attorney for Peters said the man's family is shocked and disappointed by what happened and offered condolences to Rosenblatt.

A day after the deadly standoff, many in the neighborhood were still on edge.

"It definitely is nerve-racking, and this is the kind of community that when something happens everybody is hurting and everybody is worried and everybody is praying," said Shulie Mathless, who was visiting Crown Heights.

Security Stepped Up At Brooklyn Synagogue After Stabbing

Crown Heights resident Yehudis Cohen felt drawn to pray Wednesday at the Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters.

"I wanted to add spiritual light to the building," she said.

"Thank the good Lord that the boy is doing better."

After recent protests over police-involved killing, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city officials quickly said this incident was very different.

"Lives were at stake and these officers, with courage, skill and restraint, handled the situation very admirably," de Blasio said.

"I'm very comfortable going forward that the actions of the officers were more than justified based on the dangers that they and seven other individuals faced in that basement of that building," Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said.

"It's clear that the shooting was justifiable," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former NYPD cop. "It's clear that this person attacked an innocent victim."

Police said Peters, of Valley Stream, had emotional and mental issues. Records show he had been arrested 19 times, most recently for drugs in 2006.

Investigators don't know why he targeted the house of worship.

"What motivated this guy specifically to plan and plot this location? It isn't like he lives next door," state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, D-Brooklyn. "He came and looked and came in and went out and came back."

"We're pained by how this unfolded," said Rabbi Motti Seligson, Chabad-Lubavitch spokesman. "We're grateful for how quick the police responded."

Seligson said witnesses reported the suspect repeatedly saying, "Kill the Jews." But Brooklyn Chief of Detectives Pat Conry said Peters may have said something along the lines of, "I will kill all of you."

Bratton said police are investigating the alleged remarks.

One resident said he doesn't believe it was a hate crime.

"A stupid person -- he forgot to take the pills or something," the man told Grymes.

Police said a 9-inch knife with a 4 1/2-inch blade was recovered at the scene. Three officers were also hospitalized for ringing in the ear.

The investigation is ongoing.

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