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San Francisco police seek man who fired pistol inside Jewish synagogue

S.F. police seek man who fired shots in Richmond District synagogue
S.F. police seek man who fired shots in Richmond District synagogue 01:17

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco police are investigating a shooting inside a Richmond District synagogue Wednesday night during which the unidentified suspect may have fired blanks rather than live rounds in what a synagogue official called an attempt to terrorize Jewish people.

The synagogue did not report the incident until Thursday morning. No injuries or property damage were reported.

Officers responded to a report of threats at the synagogue on Balboa Street around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, the San Francisco police department said in a statement Thursday night.

The person who made the report described an incident around 7:20 p.m. Wednesday in which an unknown man entered the building and "shot several times," police said.

"To me, this feels like an act of terrorism. The point was to terrify the Jewish people here," Alon Chanukov, the synagogue's vice president, told KRON-TV.

Man Fires Pistol in Synagogue
Surveillance video showed a man entering a synagogue in San Francisco's Richmond District Wednesday night and firing a pistol.  SFPD

In surveillance video of the incident, a man wearing a baseball cap, jacket and sneakers is seen entering a room with more than a dozen people at a table. The man makes hand gestures before taking out a gun and firing around the room. The man then waves and exits less than a minute after entering the room.

Police did not name the synagogue.

Chanukov said the witnesses did not call police after the suspect fired the rounds believed to be blanks but he phoned authorities Thursday morning.

"I don't think people knew what was happening. We are talking about elderly people. The youngest being 60 then 70s and 80s," Chanukov said, adding that there was a fear about retaliation from speaking out.

S.F. Synagogue Shooting Suspect
Surveillance photos of a suspect sought by police for incidents involving a firearm at a San Francisco Richmond District synagogue and the Balboa Theater FBI / SFPD

The police noted there was another report of a person with a gun at the nearby Balboa Theater at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. A man brandished a gun at employees and then fled on foot.

Police said the events appeared to be unrelated to the synagogue incident on Wednesday but the similar descriptions indicate the man in each report is "possibly the same individual."

Investigators were searching for the suspect on Friday. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the San Francisco police department at (415) 575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD. Anonymous tips are accepted.

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