LOS ANGELES—A man accused of accosting a Jewish couple in their 70s in Beverly Hills, attacking the man with a belt, while allegedly making anti-Semitic comments and attempting to rob the woman, was charged Dec. 12 with elder abuse and other counts, along with a hate crime allegation.
Jarris Jay Silagi, 44, is facing one count each of elder abuse, assault with a deadly weapon and attempted robbery and two counts of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, along with allegations of a hate crime and personally inflicting great bodily injury, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said.
The criminal complaint also alleges that Mr. Silagi has prior convictions from 2013 for attempted robbery and 2021 for first-degree burglary.
The victim and his wife were in the area of North Rexford Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard at about 9 a.m. Saturday when the suspect—who had no relationship with the couple—made anti-Semitic statements to the victim, according to the Beverly Hills Police Department (BHPD), whose station is located feet away from the site of the attack.
The man suffered a laceration on his head after being struck with a belt and was treated at the scene by Beverly Hills Fire Department paramedics. Police said he did not require hospitalization.
The suspect, who also allegedly tried to rob the victim’s wife by demanding her jewelry, fled the scene prior to police arrival, but was later arrested after being spotted by a BHPD senior forensic specialist, according to police.
Despite the charges, criminal proceedings against Mr. Silagi were suspended Tuesday after a defense attorney declared a doubt about the defendant’s mental competency, according to Deputy District Attorney Paul Kim.
Beverly Hills Police Department Chief Mark Stainbrook called the attack a “despicable act of hate against a member of our community,” saying such crimes “will not be tolerated.”
After the attack, victim Raphy Nissel told KTLA5 that as an Orthodox Jew, he does not drive on the Sabbath, which in Judaism is from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. His wife Rebecca told the station the suspect held the belt “in his hand,” hit her husband “over the head, and he yelled at her, ‘Give me your earrings, Jew.”’
Raphy Nissel said at the start of the attack he didn’t know what the man was hitting him with.
“I didn’t realize what it was, but it was very heavy, very hard and very painful,” he explained. “But I didn’t fall down. I just was perplexed at what was going on.”
According to Raphy Nissel, his assailant most likely noticed his religious garb and targeted him because he’s Jewish.
“I immediately connected the dots together and understand,” he said. “I’m wearing a kippah and a white shirt, which Jews wear on Saturday. He knows I’m Jewish and wants to hit me because I’m Jewish.”
According to Beverly Hills Councilwoman Lili Bosse, “After cleaning his bloody head wounds, changing his shirt, our beloved resident WENT to synagogue,” she wrote on X. “We MUST STOP this alarming Jew hatred. When anyone says HATE SPEECH doesn’t lead to violence, HERE IS YOUR PROOF #Antisemitism.”
Ms. Bosse is the daughter of Holocaust survivors.
Alan Tzvika Nissel, a law professor at Pepperdine who also works for the Los Angeles real estate firm Wilshire Skyline, posted a photo of the bloody shirt Sunday morning on X, with the following message: “Here is #antisemitism vignette you won’t read about in papers. Yesterday, on way to shul, my father (75) and mother (70) were attacked. After being struck from behind on head by belt and called out as Jew, my father recomposed himself and successfully chased down perp with help of nearby [police].”
The district attorney on Tuesday also announced charges in a separate case against Klinton Allister Dion, 32, who is accused of tagging a Burbank synagogue and various businesses in Burbank and Glendale with anti-Semitic graffiti.
Mr. Dion, who remains at large, was charged with a dozen felony counts, including two counts of vandalism of religious property involving Temple Emanu El and Emmanuel Church.
The charges against Mr. Dion also include a hate crime allegation, along with an allegation that he has a 2011 assault conviction.
Mr. Dion faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted as charged, Mr. Gascón said.
The district attorney insisted that his office “will continue to aggressively prosecute” such hate crime cases.
Burbank police said earlier that Mr. Dion allegedly sprayed anti-Semitic graffiti at Temple Emanu El in the 1300 block of North Glenoaks Boulevard, and in the subterranean garage of an apartment complex in the 400 block of East Cypress Avenue, and to a nearby Burbank utility box.
Police said the graffiti consisted of swastikas, an iron cross and the “SS” Nazi symbol.