Suspect charged in alleged hate crime attack against 75-year-old Jewish man

The suspect allegedly struck a 75-year-old man on his head with a belt buckle.

December 12, 2023, 6:32 PM

A California man faces hate crime charges for allegedly assaulting an elderly Jewish man who was walking to his synagogue for Hanukkah, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Jarris Jay Silagi, 44, allegedly struck a 75-year-old man on his head with a belt buckle on Saturday morning during an attempted robbery, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón. The man suffered a "deep laceration" to his head, Gascón said.

The man was walking with his spouse near North Rexford Drive and North Santa Monica Boulevard at the time, according to the Beverly Hills Police Department.

The suspect allegedly shouted antisemitic statements at the man during the incident, police said in a news release on Sunday. The victim was wearing a yarmulke, Gascón said.

Silagi was charged Tuesday with one count of elder abuse, one count of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and one count of attempted robbery, Gascón said. He also faces special allegations for committing a hate crime and inflicting great bodily injury, Gascón said.

The incident is part of a "disturbing trend of antisemitic hate crimes that have spiked," Gascón said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

"We want to send an unequivocal message that this conduct will have severe consequences," Gascón said.

PHOTO: A 75-year-old Jewish man was assaulted in Beverly Hills on Dec. 9, 2023, officials said.
A 75-year-old Jewish man was assaulted in Beverly Hills on Dec. 9, 2023, officials said.

Silagi is being held at the Los Angeles County Jail on no bail, online jail records show. Attorney information wasn't immediately available.

The suspect allegedly fled the scene following the incident and was later located by a BHPD senior forensic specialist, who spotted a man matching a description that had been circulated, police previously said.

"Our officers quickly apprehended the suspect and he is in custody," Police Chief Mark Stainbrook said in a statement on Sunday. "This despicable act of hate against a member of our community will not be tolerated."

The Beverly Hills Fire Department treated the victim at the scene. He did not require additional medical attention at the time, police said.

Saturday's alleged assault is the latest in a string of incidents since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas and the succeeding war.

A 69-year-old Jewish man died last month from blunt-force head trauma following a confrontation with a counterprotester as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in Thousand Oaks, California, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office said last month.

An antisemitic message was sprayed on the back of a Holocaust survivor's apartment building in Beverly Hills in late October, police said.

Earlier in October, police began an investigation after antisemitic flyers were distributed in Beverly Hills.

Police are also seeking a suspect accused of vandalizing a synagogue and several businesses in Burbank and Glendale with antisemitic messages in November, Gascón said Tuesday.

ABC News' Michelle Mendez contributed to this report.

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