Clarkstown Police: New City Chabad Firebomb Suspects Clam Up

Clarkstown police say they identified several young suspects who may have exploded powerful fireworks outside the homes of two rabbis in New City, but have not developed enough evidence for an arrest.

The investigation remains open, with detectives hoping to develop additional information in a case that’s been described as a hate crime by some and is being called a case of criminal mischief for now by police.

“The case is at a standstill,” Capt. Robert Mahon said Friday. “Our detectives did a lot of work. Suspects were being developed.”

But, “At this time, there is not sufficient evidence or probable cause to move forward with a charge.”

He said the suspects had hired lawyers and declined to speak with police.

Clarkstown police have been investigating the three explosions around 10:30 p.m Aug. 9 near the Chabad Lubavitch of Rockland at 315 N. Main St. in New City.

That night, about 15 people had gathered in the quarters of associate Rabbi Simcha Morgenstern in a two-family house at the Jewish religious center. Rabbi Avremel Kotlarsky of the Chabad and his family also lived in there.

Kotlarsky said Thursday that while the house was not damaged and no one was injured, people need to be brought to justice.

He had described the explosions as “coordinated” and a “premeditated hate crime.”

“I think it’s important we find somebody,” Kotlarsky said. “The powerful firecrackers could have burned my house. Those who did this might now think they got away with it and can do something like this again, or other people who like to do these things will think they can do so.”

Police said at the time that Kotlarsky’s 19-year-old daughter told them she saw four white males, possibly teenagers, running west from outside her home. One of the males threw a firework toward the front of her residence, police said.

A Rally Against Hate was later held at the Rockland County Courthouse in New City. A $2,500 reward was offered by the Anti-Defamation League for the arrest and conviction of the people that tossed the explosives.

Clarkstown police said they recovered the remains of an “M-98” firework, which is the same as an M-80 that could contain up to 3 grams of pyrotechnic flash powder.

“Thankfully, there have been no other incidents like that,” Police Officer Peter Walker said.

Anyone with information can call the Clarkstown Police Department at 845-639-5800.

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