LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Police are close to identifying a suspect in an attack on a Jewish man outside the Chabad of the Bluegrass last Saturday, a spokesperson told LEX 18 Wednesday.
The spokesperson, Brenna Angel, said that after having conversations with the victim and witnesses in the case, in addition to reviewing video, detectives believe the incident was not "bias-motivated."
"The altercation occurred when the suspect/driver became upset about a car blocking the roadway in front of the Chabad house," Angel said in a statement Wednesday.
A confrontation between the suspect and victim ensued, during which the suspect did say an anti-Semitic slur, said Angel.
"While the suspect's words were reprehensible, it does not appear that the assault itself was prompted by bias against the victim," she said.
While police continue to investigate, community leaders are rallying around Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, who hosted a menorah lighting ceremony at the Chabad of the Bluegrass on the seventh night of Chanukah Wednesday night.
"I intend to remain locked in arm with my Jewish brothers and sisters," State Senator Reggie Thomas (D), who represents Lexington, told a socially-distanced group that gathered outside the Chabad house. "They are indeed part of my family."
Aaron Rothke, the president of Jewish Advocacy for Kentucky, said he hopes to work with Thomas and other lawmakers to strengthen the state's hate crime laws.
Speaking during the Chanukah event, Rothke also said he wants to work to ensure Holocaust education is taught in schools.
"When we see the end result of hate," Rothke said. "It normally will check us on why we hate these people."
In 2018, the Kentucky legislature passed a bill requiring every public middle and high school to include instruction about the Holocaust and other genocides, but Rothke and Rabbi Litvin said curriculum in schools has thus far not reflected that change.
But Rabbi Litvin said there are steps each person in the community can take right now.
"We need to stand up wherever we see [hate], because when small things are ignored, we sadly have to come together for larger problems," he said.