TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — A person of interest in the robbery of four Jewish teens at the Towson Town Center is in custody, Baltimore County Police tell WJZ.
The person was taken into custody in Baltimore City on unrelated charges.
Seneca Rice, 34, is charged with four counts of robbery, one count of second-degree assault and various theft charges.
A detainer is being issued until Baltimore City concludes their investigation.
Baltimore County Police said the robbery happened around 6:30 p.m. on July 9.
According to police, the robber pulled one of the juveniles back by his shirt as the group was leaving the mall and demanded their property. He got away with their purchases, cell phones and cash.
“So you have four juveniles between the ages of 14 and 16, and a male suspect in his 30’s that was making those demands and physically grabbing onto the kids,” said a Baltimore County Police spokesperson.
Police said the alleged robber also stole a kippah, also known as a yarmulke, from one of the victims and then called them a derogatory name based on their perceived Jewish religious beliefs. While he reportedly had a knife in his waistband, he did not pull it on the victims.
The suspect then fled back into the mall.
Baltimore County Police are not certain the teens were targeted because of their religion, but members of the Jewish community said they’re concerned.
Howard Libit is the Executive Director of the Baltimore Jewish Council.
“My understanding from what I have heard from police is at least a couple of them were wearing yarmulkes, so they were identifiable as being Jewish and people,” Libit said. “They shouldn’t be afraid to wear symbols that express their faith or express their identity.”
Police said the suspect has an extensive criminal record and was most recently charged with first and second-degree assault in Baltimore City on the same day the teens were also allegedly attacked.