Anti-Semitism reportedly played a role in the robbery of four Jewish teenagers at the Towson Town Center on Thursday, July 9, according to Baltimore County Police Department officials and various media outlets.
Police officials said on July 14 that a person of interest in the robbery is now in custody. Seneca Rice was apprehended in Baltimore City on unrelated charges.
Rice, 34, is charged with four counts of robbery, one count of second-degree assault and various theft charges.
Police said Rice, a Parkville resident, has an extensive criminal record. Most recently, he was charged with first and second-degree assault in Baltimore City, also on July 9.
The unidentified teens were reportedly just leaving the mall around 6:30 p.m. when a member of the group was suddenly stopped, accosted and grabbed by his shirt by a man who was demanding all of the teenagers’ shopping bags and personal belongings.
According to the victims, who are between the ages of 14 and 16, the perpetrator was carrying a knife in his waistband. The teens gave the man their bags of clothing, three cell phones, their wallets, a mouth retainer and other purchases, police said.
The victims told the police they were singled out for being Jewish, according to Baltimore County Public Information Officer Jennifer Peach. They said the thief called them “dirty Jews” and stole one of the victim’s blue cotton kippot with Hebrew lettering. He then fled into the mall.
The victims had described the man as around 25 to 30 years of age, and between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-10, Peach said.
Baltimore County Police said that detectives were able to identify Rice through interviews with witnesses and gathered evidence. Detectives shared this information with Baltimore City and were alerted that he was already in custody on other charges.
Police said the robbery is an ongoing investigation.