NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police on Monday said they have identified two men who were reportedly spotted photographing Jewish institutions in Brooklyn, and have concluded that no crime was committed.
The NYPD 66th Precinct said Monday evening that after the two men were interviewed, they decided that there was no criminality involved and there would be on arrests, officials told CBS2.
Police sources told CBS2 the men were from Connecticut, and they were in Brooklyn just to meet friends for dinner. The men told police they had time to kill, and were just walking around taking pictures, sources said.
The men have no ties to terror groups, police sources said. They spoke to investigators voluntarily and police are satisfied with their explanation, sources said.
On Saturday, two men took videos and pictures of the Bet Yaakob synagogue around 4:15 p.m. before a security guard asked them to leave, police said. About an hour later, investigators believed the same men attempted to enter Congregation Beth Torah.
Both synagogues are located on Ocean Parkway.
“We don’t know why, we don’t know what their interest was, but they clearly did not belong there and everyone is very concerned,” Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) told 1010 WINS.
City Councilman David Greenfield (D-44th) told CBS2’s Dave Carlin he suspected the pair could have been up to something sinister, after police said they almost immediately moved on to the second synagogue.
“What are they doing? What else have they been? And what do they have in mind?” Greenfield said.
Hikind said a woman reported two more incidents at different synagogues.
“A woman from the community who came forward saw a similar situation happening not too far from the first two locations,” Hikind said. “She saw someone taking photos of two different synagogues within a one-block area.”
Hikind said he gave all of the information to the NYPD.
“We’re not jumping to any conclusions, but there’s a lot of concern — the FBI, counterterrorism — everyone is involved and we hope we find these men and find out what their intentions were, what they were doing at these synagogues taking pictures, video,” Hikind said. “They surely were not there to pray.”
Hikind said earlier that he did not wan to take any chances.
“If they didn’t do anything wrong, no bad intentions, just come forward and we can put this behind us, but we live in a period of time where unfortunately terrible things happen by those who want to murder innocent Americans, or target Jews, so we need to take these things seriously,” Hikind said.
Local residents also had been alarmed by news of the incidents.
“When I saw the video I got scared that they are coming out after all the synagogues,” worshipper Nathan Habova said.
“I did feel eerie seeing that and that they did it in two different destinations does seem a little peculiar,” added Tamika Campbell of Brownsville.