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Volunteers help stop an attack at a Georgetown synagogue after receiving special security training

Kesher Israel Congregation Synagogue in Georgetown (7News){ }{p}{/p}
Kesher Israel Congregation Synagogue in Georgetown (7News)

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A group of volunteers at a Georgetown synagogue helped stop an attack on worshipers over the weekend. These were not ordinary volunteers. Each one was trained by a private New York security company to identify and thwart potential attacks.

The attack happened early Sunday morning at the Kesher Israel Synagogue in the heart of Georgetown.

Court records reveal security cameras caught 33-year-old Brent Wood, from Toledo, Ohio parking a U-Haul up on the sideway in front of the main door. He was wearing a dark military green jumpsuit. As a class was evacuating the building due to a bomb threat, Wood shouted, "Gas the Jews!" and sprayed a gas out of a canister at people leaving the building and one woman who was just passing by.

Volunteers, who are members of the congregation, and trained by Community Security Services, a private security firm based out of New York, helped identify the threat and stepped in to stop the attack.

"Some individual showed up. Started harassing people and started shouting anti-semitic slurs and was able to be documented, identified and law enforcement was alerted and they were able to arrest this person shortly thereafter," said Richard Priem, CEO of Community Security Services.

D.C. Police identified the canister as one of those fart spray cans you can buy online. Woods was arrested for simple assault and resisting arrest. Investigators are looking at it as a hate crime.

The Kesher Isreal Synagogue told 7News:

"Every American should feel safe in their place of worship, and I am deeply disturbed by increased frequency and intensity of anti-Semitic incidents targeting our congregation. We thank God no one was seriously hurt, but this event further demonstrates why Jewish people are feeling unsafe in their institutions.

All too often, the burden of protecting ourselves falls to our congregants. We need government and law enforcement to further strengthen their partnerships with Jewish communities, including by providing additional funding for security personnel and infrastructure. And we urge the wider community in joining us in speaking out against these hateful attacks.

Rabbi Hyim Shafner

Kesher Israel Synagogue"

The Anti-Defamation League also told 7News:

“We are very disturbed to hear that Kesher Israel was targeted today with horrific anti-Semitic harassment and assaults. Our understanding is that not only did the individual yell out phrases like ‘gas the Jews’ he sprayed some kind of substance at congregants trying to go into the building. This comes on the heels of over 2031 anti-Semitic incidents recorded nationwide by ADL since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7th. And a weekend filled with bomb threats against Jewish institutions across the country, including Kesher Israel. There is simply no excuse for these anti-Semitic acts. None of this is normal and no one should think this is okay. ADL has been in touch with Kesher Israel and law enforcement to offer our help. We appreciate both MPD’s swift response, arrest and classification that this is a hate/bias offense. It is incumbent upon all of society to push back against antisemitism and other forms of hate.” – Meredith R. Weisel, ADL D.C. Regional Director

Meredith R. Weisel

ADL Washington, D.C. Regional Director"

On Sunday, members of a place of worship took the time to be trained in specific security measures and it kept the congregation and neighbors safe.

"Ultimately, this person got arrested. Stopped. Was unable to do more harm. The reason why that happened [was] because of trained community members of the CCS team were on site to keep their own synagogue safe," added Priem.

7News is not identifying the volunteers at the synagogue who stopped the threat because they will be back to continue to protect the building and everyone who comes to the synagogue peacefully to worship.

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