Police in Teaneck, New Jersey, were investigating an altercation involving anti-Semitic slurs that began at a kosher bagel store as a bias crime Wednesday.
A suspect was in custody and was being investigated for a bias crime, though authorities also indicated the man, who is known to police, may have mental health problems.
According to police, the suspect entered Sammy’s Bagels eatery and told a patron to take off his hat, while using an expletive. He repeated the slur with a second person, resulting in a shoving match in which the victim was scratched in the face. He then exited the store and made the same comment to a third person, before being picked up by police.
“The investigation is ongoing and being treated as a bias incident,” police said in a statement.
Police said the incident occurred on Tuesday, though local media reported it happened on Wednesday.
According to NorthJersey.com, the suspect used anti-Semitic slurs against his victims. A police source told the news outlet that the suspect may suffer from mental health issues and officials emphasized that the incident was isolated.
“Preliminarily, this appears to be an isolated incident. The Township will not tolerate any acts of Bias and will use all available resources to investigate and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law,” police said.
Teaneck mayor Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin was quoted by NorthJersey.com saying that “the incident does not appear to be related to any other incident or groups around the country.”
The suspect was taken to a hospital for evaluation and then to a police station for questioning. Police did not say if he was charged.
The incident comes as authorities in New York and New Jersey have vowed to step up efforts against hate crimes after a deadly anti-Semitic shooting at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey two weeks ago.
The Anti-Defamation League said it was reaching out to local authorities about the Teaneck incident.
On Monday, police in New York arrested a man suspected of assaulting an ultra-Orthodox man in Manhattan while yelling anti-Semitic slurs.
“This horrific and cowardly act of antisemitism is repugnant to our values, and it’s even more despicable that it occurred over the holidays,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “We have absolutely zero tolerance for bigotry and hate, and we will continue to call it out whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.”