Police make arrests, identify some stolen property in separate crimes
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CrimeJewish community targetted

Police make arrests, identify some stolen property in separate crimes

Jewish community targeted by Christian Williams, Andrew Clinton

Pittsburgh police have seized many items found in Andrew Clinton's home. Photo by David Rullo.
Pittsburgh police have seized many items found in Andrew Clinton's home. Photo by David Rullo.

Pittsburgh Police arrested Christian Williams, 31, in connection with threats made against the Jewish community on Sunday, April 19.

Williams allegedly screamed obscenities and made threatening comments to community members on Murray Avenue near Shaare Torah Congregation on April 17. Additionally, Williams reportedly harassed people near a church in Oakland, although the nature of the threats is not known.

Williams was arrested on Forward Avenue after being spotted in Squirrel Hill by a community member who contacted Rick Franks, the security director for the Jewish Association on Aging, according to Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Community Security Director Shawn Brokos. Franks notified Brokos, who contacted Pittsburgh Police. Officers arrested Williams after observing him acting erratically.

Williams is in the Allegheny County Jail awaiting a preliminary hearing. Brokos said she hopes he will be detained for a mental health evaluation.

Brokos credits both the victims who reported the incidents and provided an accurate description of the suspect promptly, as well as vigilant community members who identified Williams based on the description.

“I think it was definitely an excellent community effort,” Brokos said. “That includes the police, as well.”

Brokos said Federation and the Pittsburgh Police are still seeking information about a separate incident that occurred on April 15. Anyone who had an antisemitic flyer in a Ziplock bag filled with rice thrown onto their property should call 911 and also report the incident to Brokos.

In an unrelated case, the Allegheny County Police department is looking for help in identifying Jewish community members who may have been a victim of theft by Andrew Clinton, Brokos said. So far, several members of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community have come forth accusing Clinton, a 20-year-old male who lives in Squirrel Hill, of stealing items from their homes.

Pittsburgh police have seized many items found in Andrew Clinton’s home. Photo by David Rullo.

He is in custody at the Allegheny County Jail on $20,000 bail after his arrest earlier this month on more than a dozen charges of theft in Fox Chapel and Ohara Township.

On April 21, police searched the home of Clinton’s parents. During the search, numerous Judaica items believed to have been stolen were identified.

Several large bins of stolen Judaic relics, books, portraits and other religious items were found in Clinton’s parents’ basement, according to Det. Francesco Rosato Jr., who is assisting police with the investigation. Officers recovered some of the items and photographed and documented others.

Pittsburgh police have seized many items found in Andrew Clinton’s home. Photo by David Rullo.

Police were unable to seize most of the items found because they have not been reported as stolen, leading officers working the case to believe victims have underreported crimes involving Clinton.

Clinton posed as a handyman to gain access to homes in Squirrel Hill, Fox Chapel and Ohara Township. He has been known to impersonate a home improvement contractor, general contractor, landscaper, HVAC technician and gynecological resident.
Clinton has posted messages on the Jewish Pittsburgh Facebook group under the false account of “Paul Wolfe,” according to Brokos.

At times, Clinton, who is not Jewish, purported to either be Jewish or someone wishing to convert. He attended functions at Jewish institutions before rabbis and others expressed concern. After community leaders consulted with Brokos, Clinton was banned from several Jewish institutions due to his questionable behavior.

Pittsburgh police have seized many items found in Andrew Clinton’s home. Photo by David Rullo.

Pittsburgh Police consider Clinton to be dangerous and urge caution to anyone who encounters him.

Pittsburgh Police are asking for anyone believing they were a victim of Clinton to contact Det. Rosato at the Zone 4 station at 412-422-6520.

Questions and concerns may be directed to Brokos at sbrokos@jfedpgh.org or 412-992-5229. PJC

David Rullo can be reached at drullo@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

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