Police in upstate New York said Friday they were not treating a stabbing that left an Orthodox Jewish man in critical condition as a hate crime.
The victim — identified as a 29-year-old teacher and father of four — was stabbed multiple times as he walked to pray at a local synagogue Wednesday morning in Monsey, a heavily Orthodox area in the town of Ramapo.
“Although there are those who believe that this was a hate crime, the official position of the Town of Ramapo Police Department is, that at this time, there is no evidence to support that contention,” the department wrote on its Facebook page.
“If anyone has facts that this is a hate crime… we strongly encourage them to come forward and report this information to our agency,” it added.
Police said they were continuing to hunt for the stabbers.
The attack, some 70 yards from the synagogue and religious center, was initially reported as a vehicular accident.
The assailant fled the scene before police and first responders arrived, according to Aaron Hershkowitz, an assistant to the synagogue’s rabbi. The incident occurred at approximately 5:45 a.m.
The motive of the stabbing remained unclear.
“It was in fact an assault and a very violent and vicious one at that,” Chief Brad Weidel said in a press conference Wednesday. “Our victim was walking to synagogue, he was approached from behind by at least one and maybe more individuals, and he was assaulted and stabbed, and stabbed more than once.”
A member of the local emergency service, Chaveirim, told The Journal News that security camera footage had captured the attack. He said the victim was “jumped and beaten and stabbed multiple times.”
On Wednesday afternoon, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo implied in a tweet that the attack was anti-Semitic. He announced that he had directed the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist in the investigation.
“This attack is horrific,” he tweeted. “The rise in anti-Semitic and hate-fueled attacks MUST end, and I urge all NYers to denounce hate whenever and wherever they see it.”
Amb. Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul general in New York, also added in a video message from Monsey that while the motive is still unclear, “it seems to be an anti-Semitic attack.” He noted that statistics show a rise in anti-Semitism in New York City and nationally.
The Anti-Defamation League is offering up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators.
JTA contributed to this report.