PITTSBURGH — Squirrel Hill shoppers and residents say they are in disbelief trying to process yet another hateful act in their community.
“It’s just insane. I don’t understand it. It’s just so sad,” said Christiana Bryan of Pittsburgh.
“That’s unbelievable. I really hate all of this,” said James Kress of Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Police arrested and charged David Aul with prohibited acts, disorderly conduct and strangulation.
Eyewitnesses say the Pittsburgh man hurled racist and antisemitic slurs at workers and people along Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill.
It happened at the Rite Aid last Tuesday.
That’s where store workers allegedly caught Aul shoplifting.
When a worker confronted him, he spit on her and caused a scene.
Police say when they showed up he became even more confrontational.
“That right there is a whole different level than a lot of things,” said Robert Mccune of Pittsburgh.
Police say they had another report of him making antisemitic attacks two days earlier.
Workers at another business say he came into their store, harassed a female employee and then choked her boss, saying he would “Come back tomorrow.”
Shawn A. Brokos, director of Community Security for Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, says the rise in antisemitism nationwide and locally has reached epic proportions.
She says the community needs to focus on preparedness and continue to partner with law enforcement and mental health professionals.
“We are on par to be ahead of the incidents we had reported last year to us and last year was double the incidents reported to us the year before,” said Brokos.
Aul will face a judge for his preliminary hearing Monday.
He remains in the Allegheny County Jail.
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