Skip to main content

SF synagogue shooting was not a hate crime, defense argues

Deputy Public Defender Olivia Taylor, representing Dmitri Mashin, speaks with reporters following a court appearance on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in San Francisco. | Noah Berger for The Standard/POOL

The lawyer for a man accused of terrorizing a San Francisco synagogue with a replica firearm said the Feb. 1 incident was not the hate crime prosecutors say it was.

Dmitri Mishin, 51, wore orange jail garb and a black mask at a Thursday court hearing where a judge delayed his arraignment for a second time because his lawyer asked for more time to prepare.

The court granted Deputy Public Defender Olivia Taylor’s request for her client to be arraigned instead on Feb. 17, the same day prosecutor Jamal Anderson aims to discuss Mishin’s detention status.

Judge Alexandra Robert Gordon speaks with Dmitri Mashin during a court appearance at the Hall of Justice at the San Francisco Superior Court on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in San Francisco., Calif. | Noah Berger for The Standard/POOL

Mishin was quiet for most of Thursday’s court appearance over a Feb. 1 incident at the Schneerson Center in the Richmond District where prosecutors say he fired blanks in a room of worshippers. No one was injured in the shooting.

The accused gunman waived his right to a Russian interpreter for the Thursday morning hearing, which left his lawyer to explain or repeat questions directed at him.

Taylor told reporters after the hearing that Mishin was “not guilty of a hate crime” and that the gun wasn’t a real weapon.

“It is important for the public to know that no one was physically harmed during the alleged incident, and it is alleged that Mr. Mishin was in possession of a replica firearm,” she said. “Mr. Mishin is innocent and we look forward to demonstrating that with a robust and thorough defense.”

Troubling History

Although Taylor rejected the hate crime characterization, Mishin’s social media posts suggest he held a deep interest in Nazis and antipathy toward Jews.

On Sunday, The Standard uncovered that a Twitter account in Mishin’s name published a Nazi propaganda poster as well as images of him wearing a World War II-era German uniform.

Police reports additionally suggest that Mishin had a long history of run-ins with law enforcement on suspicion of crimes as petty as a $9.99 bouquet theft and as serious as attempted murder.

A man takes part in a morning service at the Schneerson Center in San Francisco on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. | Russell Yip for The Standard

A relative—who asked not to be named out of concern for their safety—told The Standard that Mishin had been “terrorizing society” for a decade.

“Next time—God forbid—if he’s released he’ll come with a real gun,” they said.

On Wednesday, after District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced the hate crime allegations against Mishin, Schneerson Center leaders expressed relief.

“I’m happy this person is getting the charges he deserves,” said rabbi Alon Chanukov, “and I hope that he’s put away for a very long time and that the community can unify against this behavior.”

Filed Under