Two young Jewish boys returning from Shabbat services at a Los Angeles synagogue were shot with a paintball gun fired from a passing car, amid a nationwide spike in incidents of antisemitic violence and harassment.
Yanky Munitz — the father of the boys, aged 11 and 13 — told The Algemeiner on Tuesday that his sons were walking with their mother to their cousins’ home in the city’s Hancock Park area on Saturday, when a paintball fired from a black Honda struck the younger boy in the chest.
“It could have been a lot worse,” said Munitz, who noted that his sons were outwardly wearing kippot and ritual tzitzit. He said the car had quickly driven away, before any witnesses could identify the driver or any passengers.
A photo posted by Munitz on Facebook, where he shared details about the incident, showed a red welt on his son’s chest left by the projectile.
“Antisemitism is not a new thing — I’ve experienced it when I was younger … it’s been around forever,” said Munitz, adding that he tells his children to always be aware of their surroundings, but without being afraid.
“By being scared to go out or being scared to wear your yarmulke or anything like that, you’re allowing them to win. That’s what they want — you’re doing their job for them,” Munitz said of his message to the young boys. “You be proud of being Jewish, and you display it properly, and you just have to be vigilant.”
Munitz said that the family immediately filed a police report and had spoken with a Los Angeles Police Department detective. An LAPD spokesperson told The Algemeiner on Tuesday that the investigation was still ongoing, with no arrests made.
The boys’ father added that while his younger son was initially “shaken up” after the attack and was reluctant to return to synagogue for services later that day, he soon found new resolve.
“His mom spoke to him and reiterated what we’ve taught him, and he understood. He was like, ‘No, I’m gonna go.’ And he wore it proudly … he’s a tough little guy,” Munitz said.
The paintball shooting came amid a rise in attacks and harassment targeting Jews and Jewish institutions following recent hostilities in Israel, including several incidents in Los Angeles. On Thursday, a second suspect was arrested in connection with an assault on Jewish diners at a Beverly Grove sushi restaurant.
On Thursday, the nonprofit Magen Am, which provides security services to Jewish institutions in the city, had issued a public advisory regarding a pro-Palestinian protest planned for that coming Saturday near the site of the attack. The group told area Jewish residents they could continue with their normal Shabbat routine, but that any escalating threats posed by protesters would trigger an alert plan devised along with local officials.
“It’s sad to think that there are people out there that would target a child like this, because of their religion,” said Yossi Eilfort, president of the group, to The Algemeiner. “But it makes us even more dedicated to grow our cause and secure the community.”