New details have emerged of the incident on Shabbat in which synagogue security volunteers tackled a man brandishing knives.
The man had been spotted running towards the Toras Chaim Synagogue, Hendon, north-west London, at 11.15am on Saturday wielding two knives.
As he neared the synagogue the shul’s own security guard and a volunteer from the Community Security Trust (CST) blocked the entrance. Congregants who had been outside the synagogue at the time rushed back into the building.
At no point did the man, who was not wearing shoes or a shirt, attempt to enter the synagogue.
Four CST Shabbat patrol volunteers, alerted to the situation, chased after the man as he ran inside a launderette in nearby Bell Lane. Seeing the launderette was empty, the volunteers held the door closed from the outside and spoke to the man, and the police were called.
He was then detained by police under the Mental Health Act. It is not believed the incident was related to terrorism or antisemitism.
Police confirmed there were no injuries.
Dalia Meshulum was walking with her two children, aged three and one, along Bell Lane when the man ran towards her before entering the launderette. She said she could see people shouting and chasing the man, with passers-by confused by the ordeal.
Mrs Meshulum, 27, told the JC: "It's just not what you expect to see in Hendon. (The knifeman) was in the launderette for about eight minutes before the police arrived. You don't really have time to think about it when it's happening. But it was a relief when we found out no-one had been hurt. It was quite dramatic."
CST said: “We deeply thank the CST security volunteers who immediately intervened, courageously helping ensure that nobody was hurt.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Rose, borough commander for Barnet, also praised the bravery of the volunteers.
He said: “It was a significant act of bravery and quick thinking by the CST staff advancing towards danger to engage this mentally ill man and ‘locking’ him in the launderette. This smart approach enabled the situation to be resolved with minimal force and enabled us to much more quickly ensure he received the necessary treatment. It is however something I am not surprised by. The CST train to a very high standard and are an extremely well run and well led organisation.”
A spokeperson for the Toras Chaim Synaogue said the incident had been "frightening.
“However, thanks to our fantastic CST representative and security guard - as well as several other community members – the situation was managed superbly. Our safety procedures proved effective and everyone was kept safe. We will, however, use this incident as a learning curve and take this opportunity to review all security policies and ensure we are prepared for any future threats.
We would like to give a huge thanks to our security guard and the CST for helping to divert the individual away from Toras Chaim and contain him until the police arrived.”