Police: Stabbing at Brooklyn synagogue 'isolated incident'; suspect dead

Police: Stabbing at Brooklyn synagogue 'isolated incident'; suspect dead
A crime scene investigator, center, passes a member of the Lubavitch community as he enters Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic headquarters Tuesday. (Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

New York police on Tuesday said a knife-wielding man stabbed a student in the head inside a Brooklyn synagogue before being shot to death by officers after he refused to drop a knife.

The confrontation happened at 1:40 a.m. local time Tuesday at the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic headquarters in Crown Heights as about 50 students were still inside studying.


A witness flagged down a police officer, who confronted 49-year-old Calvin Peters inside the synagogue and told him to put the knife down. More officers responded to the scene at the three-story building.

In a 3-minute video captured inside the synagogue, the knife-wielding man is ordered by several officers to put the weapon down. At one point in the video published by the New York Daily News, the man places the knife on a table, but then quickly picks it up again.

"Drop the … knife. Drop the … knife," shout officers repeatedly using expletives.

As officers surround the man, he fails to put down the knife and was shot once in the torso. He's then handcuffed.

At a news conference on Tuesday, John Miller, the New York Police Department's deputy commissioner of intelligence and counter-terrorism, called the stabbing "an isolated incident" that appeared to involve a man who was known to police for being "an emotionally disturbed person" and for "acting out in other places."

Miller said there was no indication the man had any terrorist motives, but he said security would be stepped up at religious institutions given recent stabbing incidents in Israel and the West Bank, and in light of concerns that the New York incident "may bring to houses of worship around the city."

"You'll see some enhanced coverage in terms of police presence" at religious sites, Miller said. "But I want to underline, that is to really address those concerns," he said, "not to suggest that we have any information that this had any connection to anything other than this individual and his problems."

Officials with the NYPD said Peters died after being taken to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn.

On Tuesday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the incident "highlights the urgent need for increased services for emotionally disturbed or troubled people."

"We as a society must do more for those who struggle with these challenges, and it is why the city has launched a new plan to improve access to mental health care and treatment for those in need," de Blasio said.

The 22-year-old victim, whose name was not released by police, was also taken to Kings County Hospital where he is in stable condition.

Phone calls and emails to the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic headquarters early Tuesday were not immediately returned.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.