(New York Jewish Week) — A man has pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes for a spree of violent attacks against Jews in a heavily Orthodox area of New Jersey.
In April 2022, Dion Marsh perpetrated a series of attacks against Orthodox Jews in and around Lakewood, a city in central New Jersey that is a hub of Orthodox Jewish life. The victims were recognizable as Jews due to their traditional attire and Marsh targeted them because they were Jewish, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.
On Thursday, Marsh, 29, copped to five hate crimes charges and one count of carjacking. The Justice Department said that Marsh had attempted to kill four victims and assaulted a fifth. He faces life in prison.
Marsh told investigators that the attacks “had to be done” because Hasidic Jews “are the real devils,” according to the federal complaint.
“They had this coming,” he said.
According to the statement, during the daylong attack spree, in the early afternoon, March forced a Jewish man out of his Toyota Camry, assaulting him and causing injuries, then driving off in the man’s car.
Hours later, Marsh used another vehicle to ram a Jewish man, “attempting to kill the victim,” and fracturing several bones, the statement said. Between the attacks, Marsh had driven to his home and switched into his grandmother’s vehicle, a federal complaint said.
Shortly after that, Marsh used the vehicle to ram a second Jewish man, also attempting to murder him and causing broken bones.
Then, using the first vehicle he had stolen, he rammed into a Jewish pedestrian, got out of the vehicle, and stabbed the victim in the chest, causing serious injuries.
In the final attack that night, Marsh hit another Orthodox Jewish man who was walking in nearby Jackson Township, in another murder attempt that caused broken bones and internal injuries. Law enforcement arrested Marsh later that night at his home.
The Anti-Defamation League said that Marsh had not displayed any indication of antisemitism before the attacks. He now faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the four hate crimes violations in which he attempted to kill his victim, a maximum sentence of 10 years for the hate crime assault and 15 years for carjacking. He also faces additional state charges.
The FBI investigated the case along with local police.
“The threat from hate-fueled violence is a sad reality across our state and our nation. That hate is not who we are,” U.S. Attorney Philip R. Selinger said in a statement.
There were 408 antisemitic incidents in New Jersey in 2022, including nine assaults, according to the ADL. The guilty plea came as the ADL has reported a spike in antisemitism nationwide following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.