(JTA) – A man broke into the home of a Jewish family of six in Los Angeles early Wednesday morning, allegedly yelling “Free Palestine” and “Kill Jews” as he was taken away, according to police there.
The suspect, whom police identified as Daniel Garcia, forced his way into the parents’ bedroom while announcing his intent to kill Jews, the mother, who is nine months pregnant, told local news. The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating his actions as a hate crime.
The home invasion occurred as American Jews are on edge about a spike in antisemitic activity following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and Israel’s retaliatory strikes on Gaza. Violence has broken out at dueling pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian rallies; pro-Palestinian groups have harassed students on college campuses and some professors have spoken admiringly about the Hamas attacks. Some synagogues and Jewish day schools have been threatened, as well.
Studio City, the neighborhood where the home invasion took place, is located in the San Fernando Valley, a hub of Jews and Israelis in Los Angeles.
After Garcia allegedly broke into the home, the father forced the intruder into the yard while the children locked themselves in a safe room, according to the family’s account.
“He was screaming at us, ‘You are Jewish, you are Israeli, I need to kill you, we need to kill Jewish,’” the mother, Efrat Meyers, recounted in an Israeli accent to TV news channel KTLA. “This is very, very sad, and very, very scary.”
The family believes Garcia had also visited their home a year prior, questioning them about whether they were Jewish and their views on Israel. They have a mezuzah on their door.
“I feel not so good and not so safe because I never thought it would happen in my house,” the father, Mendel Meyers, told a local news channel. He said he called for his wife to bring his gun, which he said he does not own, to scare the intruder.
Local news footage of Garcia, wearing only underwear, being led away from the house includes video of him yelling “Free Palestine,” while a police statement also said he had been heard yelling “Kill Jews.” In additional news footage he said he was not armed. Garcia appeared to be suffering from a mental illness, police said. He is being held on $225,000 bail.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass called the attack “a vile act of hate” in a statement. “In the wake of the terror and violence inflicted over the previous weeks, this is one of the worst fears of Jewish families across our country — hatred spilling across the threshold, destroying the sense of safety and sanctuary in a home,” she said. “We remain steadfast in support of the Jewish people. The people of Los Angeles will not cower to hate.”
California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom made a surprise visit to Israel last week to show support in the wake of the Hamas attacks on his way to a state visit in China.