Prisoner admits targeting Jews in killings

March 26, 2012 at 2:33 PM

NEW YORK, March 26 (UPI) -- A man sentenced to life in prison in 1995 for shooting at students in New York City has admitted targeting his victims because they were Jewish.

Rashid Baz, who grew up in Lebanon during its civil war, was convicted of killing Ari Halberstam, 16, and attempting to kill more than a dozen others when he opened fire from his car with two handguns at a van entering the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan.

Baz initially told police the 1994 incident involved a traffic dispute. At his trial his lawyer claimed Baz was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but in a 2007 prison confession, only recently made public, Baz admitted targeting and following the victims' vehicle until he could fire at it.

Asked by investigators if he would have shot at a van of black or Latino people, Baz replied, "No, I only shot at them because they were Jewish," the New York Post reported Thursday.

Since he is serving a 141-year sentence in a state prison, there is no reason to pursue additional hate-crime charges, law enforcement officials said.

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