Brooklyn Bridge gunman admitted he wanted to kill Jews

By Jennifer Lipman, March 26, 2012
A memorial for the victim on the Brooklyn Bridge

A memorial for the victim on the Brooklyn Bridge

A Lebanese-born man who shot at the young Chasidic passengers of a bus on the Brooklyn Bridge in March 1995, killing a 16-year-old boy, later admitted that he deliberately targeted Jews.

Ari Halberstam, a yeshivah student, was killed when Rashid Baz opened fire on the 15 passengers on the bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Two others were seriously wounded.

The bus had been taking the group home after a visit to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, then in a Manhattan hospital for minor surgery.

Baz, a Lebanese immigrant, was convicted of murder. He maintained that the motive was a traffic disagreement. But it has now emerged that he also told police at the time that the murder was planned and that his victims were targeted because of their race.

He reportedly told detectives that he had followed the bus in his car, adding: "I only shot them because they were Jewish."

Baz was sentenced to a minimum of 141 years behind bars, so the new information will not be used to pursue a hate crime charge.

When he was sentenced, the judge who presided over the case said he would recommend "against the release of this defendant on parole".

Last updated: 5:56pm, March 26 2012