Wiesel assault suspect arrested in New Jersey
Harris: "Our City won't allow hatred to
San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris
By Ari Burack, Bay City News Service
February 18, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - A New Jersey man suspected of attacking
Nobel Peace Prize laureate and author Elie
Wiesel in San Francisco on Feb. 1 has been arrested, San Francisco
District Attorney Kamala Harris announced Saturday.
Harris said 22-year-old Eric Hunt of Sussex County, N.J. was
arrested Saturday by authorities in New Jersey and is in the process
of being extradited to San Francisco for prosecution.
"Hate anywhere is a threat to people everywhere,'' Harris
"This was a brutal assault on a man who's dedicated his
life to peace.''
Wiesel, 78, a survivor of Nazi concentration camps during World
War II and author of the acclaimed memoir "Night,'' received
the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.
Previously unpublished photos discovered in 2003,
sandwiched behind a wall of a house
under renovation in Orange County, California.
The photos clearly document evidence of the holocaust.
Hunt allegedly traveled to San Francisco specifically to confront
Wiesel while Wiesel was attending the three-day RockRose Institute
World Forum Meeting at the Argent Hotel, according to the district
According to police, a man believed to be Hunt joined Wiesel
in an elevator at the hotel on the evening of Feb. 1 and asked
him for an interview.
Wiesel agreed and suggested they go to the hotel lobby, but the
man instead invited Wiesel to his hotel room, San Francisco police
Sgt. Neville Gittens.
When Wiesel declined, the man allegedly tried to force Wiesel
into his room, according to Gittens. Wiesel screamed for help
and the man ran off, Gittens said.
Wiesel was not physically injured in the attack, police reported.
Evidence found in a car left in the hotel's parking lot helped
police identify Hunt as a suspect.
A Feb. 6 essay, posted on a Web site that declares its opposition
to Zionism and Israel and questions the Holocaust, and attributed
to "Eric Hunt,'' claimed responsibility for the Feb. 1 encounter
Hunt was arrested this morning at a treatment facility he had
recently checked into, about 60 or 70 miles from his home, by
authorities in Montgomery Township, San Francisco police Lt. Mike
Mahoney, who heads the police department's special investigations
unit, said Hunt had recently graduated from college, and appears
to be a "lone wolf'' and not part of an organized group.
Harris, confirming that Hunt will be prosecuted for hate crimes,
was joined by San Francisco police Chief Heather Fong and leaders
from the San Francisco religious community in condemning the attack.
Jonathan Bernstein, a regional director of the Anti-Defamation
League called the assault "shocking'' and said he believes
Hunt intended to send a violent message to Wiesel and to all Jews.
Rita Semel of the San Francisco Interfaith Council added, "It
is important we stand together as one people'' against perpetrators
of hate crimes.
Rabbi Stephen Pearce of San Francisco's Congregation Emanu-El
said he was pleased to see how authorities handled the investigation.
"It makes me proud to be a San Franciscan,'' Pearce said.
Harris said Hunt will be charged with six felony counts: kidnapping,
false imprisonment, battery, elder abuse, false imprisonment of
an elder, and stalking. Special hate crimes allegations will be
added to each felony count, according to Harris.
Wiesel "was viciously attacked for who he is, and we won't
stand for that,'' Harris said.
"The charges today send a clear message,'' Harris added.
"Our City won't allow hatred to go unpunished.''
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