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.
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."
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 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."
Matthew Kupfer can be reached at [email protected]