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Pittsburgh Officials Appeal to Toronto to Help in the Case of Toronto Rabbi Who Was Gunned Down in P

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Officials in Pittsburgh have appealed to Toronto to help raise more reward money for the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the murder last month in Pittsburgh of Toronto Rabbi Neil Rosenblum.

Officials in the U.S. city have turned to Toronto’s Jewish community for help in raising an additional $19,000 U.S. (about $26,000 Canadian) to bring the total reward in the case to $50,000 U.S.

On May 8, an anonymous caller telephoned a Pittsburgh crime tip service and said he would reveal information about the April 17 shooting death of 24-year-old Rosenblum if the reward was raised from $30,000 to $50,000.

TIPSTER CALLS THE POLICE

Police are treating the call seriously as the strongest lead in the case — the color of the car the killer or killers were riding, a dark colored Corvette — has all but dried up.

Tony Hovanec, chief of police in the Borough of Beaver, 20 miles west of Pittsburgh and head of the area’s Crime Solvers Hotline program, said he is treating the call seriously and hopes the tipster will call back if the reward money is raised.

“If it gets the murderers off the streets and shows the (Rosenblum) family they’re not alone, I think it’s worth it,” Hovanec said, but admitted he doesn’t like the idea of someone wanting a specific amount of money to talk about a cold-blooded killing.

He said the service has received “about 60″ calls, all of which are being followed up. However, Hovanec said he “will not go higher than $50,000. I treat all calls seriously. I’d hate to say, I had the opportunity to catch the guy and I let him slip away. (Resenblum) was here with his wife and his child. That child will never get to know her father. That’s what stinks.”

SHOT FOR NO APPARENT REASON

Rosenblum, a graduate of Ner Israel Yeshiva in Toronto, was visiting his in-laws in Pittsburgh with his wife and month-old daughter to celebrate Passover. He was returning from late synagogue services in the predominantly Jewish district of Squirrel Hill when a car pulled up at a street corner and one of two men asked for directions. For no apparent reason, Rosenblum was shot six times at close range in the abdomen wrist and chest. He died in the hospital the following morning.

Before lapsing into unconsciousness, he described the car to a passerby as a dark blue or black Corvette.

Lieut. Leo O’Neill, assistant to the chief of police of Pittsburgh, said there are “no new developments” in the case. O’Neill said police are checking over 3,000 Corvettes of all colors because they are not discounting the possibility the car in question may have been painted.

He said police can’t deny the crime service caller could offer new leads, “but I can’t really see a solid lead in that.” All 18 officers on the city’s homicide team are working on the case, he added.

POSSIBLE RACIALLY MOTIVATED ATTACK

Rosenblum was dressed in Orthodox garb and wore a beard. Police have still not discounted the possibility of a racially motivated attack, although Hovanec suspects the murder was not because Rosenblum was Jewish–“He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” The conventional wisdom is that the shooting was a random thrill killing.

Pittsburgh police “are still doing everything they can,” Hovanec added.

Gregory Deacon, director of Toronto and Regional Crime Stoppers, a local crime tip hotline, said all contributions to the Rosenblum reward fund are welcome. So far, Deacon said, $1,120 has been raised and about 40 callers have pledged funds and support.

Deacon explained that funds collected for the reward are held in trust and checks cashed only upon arrest of a suspect. If there is no conviction of the suspect, money would be returned. If there is a conviction, a tax receipt will be available.

Shortly after the murder, Pittsburgh Mayor Richard Calijuri posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. An anonymous donor or donors, believed to be from a Pittsburgh Jewish organization, soon added another $20,000 and Hovanec added $1,000 from his Crime Solvers program.

All contributions may be sent to: Toronto and Regional Crime Stoppers, 305 Greenfield Avenue, Willowdale, Ontario, Canada, M2N 3E7.

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