(JTA) – Authorities arrested a man wielding a pellet gun in the parking lot of the Detroit Jewish federation headquarters Thursday morning, in an incident that caused employees to go into lockdown for part of the day.
In a statement, the federation said it did not believe the incident was antisemitic and that “we believe this individual was having a mental health crisis.”
The incident took place amid a climate of heightened antisemitism and anxiety spurred by Israel’s war in Gaza following the deadly attack by Hamas Oct. 7.
The police department of Bloomfield Township, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “a male with a gun” was taken into custody at 11:30 a.m. after being apprehended in the parking lot of the Max M. Fisher Jewish Federation Building. An increased police presence would be installed at “our places of worship and at our schools” for the rest of the day, law enforcement said.
“We are confident that there is no threat to our community and that this was not a targeted attack,” the department’s community relations liaison, Nick Soley, told JTA.
The police department and federation leadership held a joint press conference Thursday afternoon, where authorities said the weapon was a pellet gun that the man had fashioned to look like a real gun. Police chief James Gallagher also said he believed the suspect had “mental health concerns” and that the incident had “nothing going on with any of the crises going on in our world today.”
“We are confident that it was a non-antisemitic incident,” Gallagher said, adding that the investigation was still “very early.”
The incident came as the murder of a local synagogue president, Samantha Woll, entered its second week of being an unsolved crime in the city of Detroit, with authorities telling local news as recently as Tuesday they had no new updates to share. Police in that case also said they did not believe the crime was antisemitic.
Nationally, reported incidents of antisemitism and targeting of Jewish organizations have been on the rise amid the turmoil in Israel and Gaza.
Authorities in Florida Wednesday arrested a local man who had made death threats to the World Jewish Congress, while this week a student at Cornell University was arrested for threatening the school’s Jewish population and a Las Vegas man was arrested for targeting a Jewish senator with antisemitic threats.