Preparations for a local Passover celebration was interrupted by what some feared was a hate crime.
But it was a lot of alcohol and not anti-Semitism that fueled the uprooting of the menorah at Chabad at the Shore, Ventnor police said.
Shaneel Singh, 45, started trying to drag the menorah, but was quickly stopped after a resident called police, Capt. Joe Fussner said.
He was on a bike, Fussner said.
The menorah lights were damaged but the menorah itself was structurally intact.
Rabbi Avrohom Rapoport posted surveillance video showing the incident, and thanking Ventnor for their swift response.
Singh is well-known to Ventnor police with “numerous encounters over the years,” Fussner said.
Most of them involving alcohol.
In 2012, Singh was charged with two counts of assault by auto along with other crimes after he caused a crash near the Home Depot in Absecon.
Court records show he pleaded guilty in that case and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
On Friday night in Ventnor, “he was so intoxicated, we had to take him to the hospital,” Police Chief Doug Biagi said.
“The officers did a great job on the response getting the suspect and seeing to his health,” he said.
Singh was charged with criminal mischief and released on a summons.
The timing just before Passover began at sundown Friday was troubling to some.
But “nothing he ever said made us think it was a hate crime,” Biagi said.
He was charged with criminal mischief and released on a summons.
Ventnor has increased patrols around its synagogues during the holiday as a precaution.