Good morning. It’s Wednesday. We’ll follow the surrender of the suspect in Sunday’s subway shooting. We’ll also look at Jewish soldiers from World War II who had Christian burials. They’re now getting appropriate religious ceremonies.
He walked into the Fifth Precinct accompanied by officers in civilian clothes, a 25-year-old man in a white T-shirt and black pants. Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the man, Andrew Abdullah, was the suspect in Sunday’s fatal subway shooting.
“This horrific crime should never have happened,” Sewell said, calling the death of Daniel Enriquez, 48, “every New Yorker’s worst nightmare.” She also said that the shooting “was committed by another repeat offender, who was given every leeway by the criminal justice system.”
The police almost caught him minutes after the train arrived at the Canal Street station and Abdullah — who had faced several gun-related offenses in the last six years and pleaded guilty to a weapons charge tied to two Harlem gangs in 2018 — made his way to the street. He was stopped by transit officers who were searching for a gunman described as wearing gray sweatpants and a black hoodie.
When the officers encountered him, Abdullah had taken off the hoodie, so they saw only the orange-red T-shirt that had been underneath and concluded that he did not match the description, said James Essig, the chief of detectives. They let him go, but later, when they saw the T-shirt peeking out around the collar of the hoodie in security camera images, they realized he had been their man, said John Miller, deputy commissioner for public information.
The police have said that Abdullah stunned a car full of passengers on Sunday when he pulled out a 9-millimeter handgun and fired at Enriquez. Abdullah had been pacing and muttering to himself as the Q train made its way across the Manhattan Bridge, the police said. Abdullah and Enriquez, who was on the way to meet his younger brother for brunch, had had no interaction before Abdullah fired one shot at Enriquez’s chest, the police said.
Abdullah slipped out in the chaos when the train pulled into the Canal Street station and handed the gun to a homeless man, two law enforcement officials said.
Lamor Miller-Whitehead, the bishop of Leaders of Tomorrow International Churches, said he had spoken with Abdullah’s relatives as the suspect contemplated surrendering. He said the family had told him Abdullah “suffered from mental illness, mental health challenges.”
“I said, ‘Let’s get together. And let’s turn him in,’” he said. “And they all agree. Even the young man said, ‘I’m going to turn myself in.’” A surrender had been brokered by Tuesday afternoon, but Miller-Whitehead said officers with guns drawn arrested Abdullah at the office of the Legal Aid Society.
Enjoy a mostly sunny day, with a high near 70 and a southeast wind. The evening will be partly cloudy, with a low around 56 and a light southeast wind.
In effect today. Suspended tomorrow (Solemnity of the Ascension).
Pressure builds on Adams to address housing issues
“We’ve got to get it right,” Mayor Eric Adams the mayor says of the need for a plan to address rising housing costs and homelessness.
Shortly after becoming mayor at the beginning of the year, he promised he would announce a “comprehensive housing plan” within a couple of weeks. Now it’s four months later, and there has been no announcement.
Adams has defended the pace — “I know it feels like I have been the mayor for five years, but I’ve been here for five months,” he said last week. And a staffing shortage in the Department of Housing Preservation and Development has slowed the city’s ability to move ahead with affordable housing projects.
The details of Adams’s housing and homelessness plans are still being worked on, ahead of an expected release next month. They will arrive as rising rents and the end of pandemic-era protections put pressure on the mayor to address two seemingly intractable problems. Roughly one-third of renters are “severely rent-burdened,” meaning they spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent, according to a survey of the city’s housing stock issued last week. And more than 48,000 people slept in New York City shelters every night in March, according to the Coalition for the Homeless — about 2,000 fewer than the entire population of Plainfield, N.J.
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Many Jewish soldiers who served in World War II were given Christian burials in Europe. Their relatives often had no idea.
My colleague Liam Stack writes that their descendants are now holding rededication ceremonies and replacing Latin crosses on the graves with Stars of David in Europe to honor their ancestors’ Jewish heritage. They have been aided by Operation Benjamin, a group started by Shalom Lamm, an amateur historian who was struck by a conversation with a friend who had just returned from a visit to Normandy American Cemetery in France.
The friend said he had expected to see more Stars of David among the rows of white crosses.
That prompted Lamm to do some research. He found that 149 of the 9,500 graves at Normandy were marked with Stars of David. But historians have estimated that roughly 2.6 percent of American casualties in the war were Jewish, which meant there should have been many more Jews buried there.
He decided to track them down, but how?
He began by selecting a grave at random — a grave in Normandy with a Latin cross.
“I am almost embarrassed to say how we did this: We took a soldier whose name sounded Jewish,” Lamm said. “We said ‘Hey, Benjamin Garadetsky is buried under a cross, maybe he is Jewish.’”
Lamm found Garadetsky’s descendants. He learned that Garadetsky had been a Russian immigrant who lived in the Bronx before his military service and whose parents were buried in a Jewish cemetery on Long Island. After Garadetsky’s grave was rededicated in 2018, Lamm started Operation Benjamin, naming the project after him.
Since then, some two dozen ceremonies have been held at cemeteries around the world run by the American Battle Monuments Commission, which operates 26 burial grounds and 32 memorials in 20 countries and territories.
Alison Bettencourt, a spokeswoman for the commission, said that in the chaos of war and the aftermath, some soldiers might have been buried under the wrong religious symbols. In addition, many Jewish soldiers chose to pass as Christians because dog tags at the time included information on a soldier’s religious background. Soldiers were given three options: ‘C’ for Catholic, ‘P’ for Protestant, and ‘H’ for Hebrew.
“There was a lot of concern among Jewish soldiers that if they were captured and their dog tag marked them as Jewish, they would get different treatment from the Germans especially,” said Ben Brands, a historian at the commission.
Some also feared they might face antisemitism from other American soldiers. Barbara Belmont, 80, was 3 years old when her father, Albert, was killed in action. His dog tags identified him as a Christian.
“There was a lot of antisemitism, and he didn’t want to be ‘that Jewish soldier’ or whatever,” she said. “He just wanted to be one of the soldiers.”
I made my first of many visits to New York in 1988. I was coming from Vancouver, British Columbia, a small town by comparison, and I was thrilled to be in the big city.
I stayed at the Excelsior Hotel on the Upper West Side, a well-kept secret among Canadians because of its reasonable prices and prime location near the Museum of Natural History.