Thursday's stabbing of a rabbi by an Egyptian man with a history of mental illness is under investigation as a possible hate crime.
Police are holding 24-year-old Khaled Amgad Awad without bail, after he is accused of attacking Rabbi Shlomo Noginski in broad daylilght on Thursday outside a Jewish elemtary school in a busy residential neighborhood in Brighton. Police said Awad also brandished a firearm at the rabbi and later when he was approached by police.
"It was certainly a harrowing and brazen act," Assistant District Attorney Margaret A. Hegarty told a district court judge at Awad's arraignment on Friday. "A member of our community was stabbled and chased several times here, right under our nose."
The stabbing occurred just steps from Brighton District Court, but what motivated the attack remains unclear.
Noginski told police he had been talking on his phone in front of the Shaloh House Jewish elementary school when he was approached by a man holding what appeared to be a black gun. The assailant demanded the keys to Noginski's van, and told him to get in it. When Noginski ran, the man chased him and stabbed him several times.
Hegarty said police have video that captured Awad yelling at the rabbi in either Arabic or English. Noginski, who was fighting for his life, said he could not discern what his attacker was yelling at him.
District Attorney Rachel Rollins said investigators are working to determine whether the incident was a hate crime.
Noginski managed to break free after he was stabbed and ran, but his attacker chased and caught him, stabbing him again.
Awad allegedly ran away as bystanders and drivers began to take notice of the scuffle. A short time later police encountered him in an alley and he pointed what appeared to be a gun at them. The officers convinved him to put down the gun and arrested him.
Rollins, who spoke outside the courtroom after the arraignment, gratefully acknowledged the way police deescalated the encounter, saying they "showed incredible restraint."
Awad is being held without bail and will return to court for his next hearing on July 8. Appearing in shackles and handcuffs, he said little other than requesting to speak with his lawyer again.
Speaking via Zoom, his defense lawyer urged the judge not to rush to judgement. A mental health counselor who evaluated Awad also told the judge that he was raised in Florida and had not been taking any medication for an unspecified mental health condition for the last four months. She also said
that he was logical and coherent during her evaluation.
Over 100 people filled Brighton Common Friday morning for a vigil in support of Noginski, despite pouring rain.
“We, Boston, we’re not going to sit back,” Shaloh House director Dan Rodkin said in response to the attack. He thanked Bostonians from all communities for their outpouring of support, and he said the rabbi is in stable condition at the hospital.
For Rosaline Barron of Newton, who is Jewish, the attack hit close to home.
“This is a terrifying attack to me,” she said. “My kids have lived here. My mother lived here. This is a safe community, a loving community.”
Barron also decried the atmosphere of vitriolic hate and attacks against all marginalized communities in the United States. She said everyone should feel safe proudly being who they are.
Moving forward, Rodkin said the Shaloh House is working to double enrollment and is starting a new program to teach eight young men to be rabbis.
“We’re not scared,” Rodkin said. “We’re going to grow.”
Rodkin encouraged all attendees at the vigil to perform eight acts of kindness, one for each of Noginski’s wounds.
Yiming Fu is a GBH News intern.