Yosef Lipshultz, 68, was shot six times, including four times in a leg, just after 6:30 p.m. as he waited for services to begin at Young Israel of Greater Miami, synagogue president Damon Salzman said. Lipshultz, whose Hebrew name is Yoseph Noach ben Leah Tzivyah, was reported in stable condition after surgery.
Lipshultz frequently sat outside the synagogue waiting for services to begin, Salzman said in a statement.
“It does not take a criminal mastermind to shoot an elderly person sitting on a bench,” Salzman said. “It does not take terrorist to try and kill someone isolated and defenseless. It takes a coward. It takes someone without courage to attack an elderly defenseless man sitting in front of a place of sanctuary.”
Police said a gunman in a black Chevy Impala drove past, circled and then opened fire, striking Lipshultz in his lower extremity.
“It’s too early to tell if this is going to be categorized as a hate crime,” police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta told HuffPost. “In order to classify a crime a hate crime, there are several elements that need to be present, and that’s what investigators are looking into as we speak.”
Salzman called the shooting “disgusting and repulsive” and said it has alarmed members of the community.
“People are scared. I have received calls asking if it is safe to go to the synagogue,” he said.
The time now is not to be afraid of bullies. The time now is to act as a hero. A hero is not someone who carries a gun, ready to fire at the first sign of trouble. Nor is a hero someone who goes with a group of like minded friends, armed and ready to hunt down every suspicious looking character. A hero is someone who does what is required especially when it is neither the easiest, nor the most enjoyable, nor the most popular thing to do.
Salzman called on the community to unite in the face of the violence and help support Lipshultz’ recovery.
The synagogue has asked that donations be sent to Young Israel of Greater Miami with a specific note for Lipshultz.
This article has been updated to reflect that police now agree with the synagogue that Lipshultz’s age is 68.