Warning: This article contains graphic and hateful content. Reader discretion is advised.
Tiffany and Nick Kinney of the Olde Towne East neighborhood of Columbus were looking forward to celebrating the election win of President-elect Joe Biden Nov. 7 in their backyard, until their neighbor, who they consider a white supremacist, made anti-Semitic threats and vandalized their home.
The couple, members of Congregation Agudas Achim in Bexley, had previously had an amicable relationship with their next-door neighbor, who Tiffany Kinney described to the CJN as a white man in his 60s and a “staunch Trump supporter.” They’ve been neighbors since they bought their home in October 2019. However, she said she heard stories from other neighbors and firsthand about hateful statements and threats he directed at Black community members.
Then on Nov. 7, the couple was celebrating with four friends and two dogs in the yard after the election was called. Tiffany Kinney, 31, said the neighbor returned home at about 5 p.m., and intentionally let his dog outside despite knowing the his and one of the Kinneys’ dogs would likely fight through the fence they shared.
“He started saying horrendous things. He said, ‘You f****** liberal Jews, you and your f****** dog – I’m going to poison your goddamn (dog),’” Tiffany said. “He was like, ‘No wonder Hitler burned all your people, I’m going to burn you and all your Jewish friends.’”
She said she “couldn’t believe what was coming out of his mouth,” and tried to talk him down. Tiffany said the neighbor knew the couple was Jewish, and once made a comment that he was “shocked” because they are “such nice people.”
“I tried to tell him ... this isn’t who you are, this isn’t what you mean,” she said. “You’re drunk, go back inside, because he was visibly very, very intoxicated. That didn’t help. He threated to come over the fence and to hit us and burn us. And then made another comment about Hitler throwing Jews into the oven, and then spat at my husband – which in the times of corona, it’s an awful assault.”
The Kinneys and their friends went inside their house. At one point Nick Kinney, 35, stepped back outside, and the neighbor, carrying beer inside, made another threat. “Hopefully it’s only the outside of your home that burns tonight, Jew,” he said, according to Tiffany.
After they were all inside again, the couple and their friends started hearing loud bangs against their front window, as if someone was trying to throw something through the windows, but each time they checked nothing was found.
Then, as they watched Biden address the nation for the first time as president-elect from their living room, an “extremely loud” crash came from the glass door in the room. Glass was shattered all over their floor and in their dogs’ fur, Tiffany said.
They immediately evacuated the room, put the dogs in their cages and went outside to inspect. Tiffany said she heard the neighbor shut his door as she walked outside.
The Kinneys called the Columbus Division of Police and waited two hours for officers to show up, she said, despite her calling multiple times and explaining she knew the neighbor had weapons in his home. In the meantime, her father-in-law came over out of concern, and the neighbor had another threatening anti-Semitic verbal altercation with him outside the home.
Soon after that last threat, the police responded but could not get the neighbor to come out of his home.
The police report marked 9:56 p.m. said “reporting officers could not contact the suspect,” and describes the anti-Semitic phrases directed toward the Kinneys. The property destruction was valued at $200.
The CJN is not naming the neighbor because as of Nov. 11, he was not charged with a crime.
Tiffany said prior to Nov. 7, she and her husband were possibly the only neighbors that had a decent relationship with the neighbor in question. Although they knew about his hateful views, they didn’t want to end up in an argument or worse situation with someone who lived next door.
While remaining cordial over the past year, Tiffany said at one point, the neighbor told them he once threatened a neighboring Black family, where he called them the N-word, pointed his shotgun at them and shot into the air. The neighbor told the Kinneys that when police responded to that incident, he hid in his bedroom upstairs with his gun – which Tiffany said was likely what he did when the police responded Nov. 7.
She told police about the prior incident, and the police shone their light in his window and could see the neighbor. They asked him to come out, but he did not respond.
Tiffany said although the neighbor does not display outward signs of white supremacy, from “the stories he’s told us, you know feelings toward other races and people, it’s quite clear.”
That night, the Kinneys stayed with Nick’s parents in Bexley. When they returned home the next day, a neighbor across the street shared his security camera footage of the window breaking incident, where a viewer can see a person approaching their home and hear the loud sound of the glass shattering. The Kinneys also set up their own security camera since the incident and have not seen the neighbor since.
Tiffany Kinney said the assigned detective, Zach Rosen, told her if the suspect is charged, the charges would likely be aggravated menacing, ethnic intimidation, criminal damaging and assault, with the potential for multiple counts for charges.
“I want this guy arrested – I want him in jail,” Tiffany said. “I don’t want this to happen to anybody else in this neighborhood. I don’t want to fear for my Jewish life, and I don’t want him to be toting his gun in my husband’s and my faces next time.”
Sgt. James Fuqua, public information officer for Columbus police, told the CJN Nov. 11 the case was under active investigation and he couldn’t get into specifics, but it is being considered a hate crime.
“I know that probably a lot of people are uneasy, especially the Jewish community specific to this incident,” he said. “It’s something we are taking very seriously and we are definitely still under active investigation for it, and we do consider it a hate crime.”
Asked why it took police two hours to respond, Fuqua said there are many circumstances that could dictate why that amount of time was taken.
“We have a priority system, so essentially what that means is depending on how busy we are and how many other things are going on that may take priority over that, that may delay the response,” he said, adding dispatchers will ask callers questions to determine the severity of the scenario and prioritize the calls. “Based on how the call came in during COVID, we would normally just refer them to do the report online, so just the fact that officers showed up still demonstrates that we care.”
The incident was also reported to both the Anti-Defamation League and JewishColumbus.
“Any reports of anti-Semitism or hate crimes is of great concern to JewishColumbus,” said Justin Shaw, director of Jewish community relations at JewishColumbus, in an email to the CJN. “Hate has no place here in Columbus or anywhere. We are grateful to our law enforcement partners for their efforts to investigate each and every one of these threats. We urge everyone to continue to remain vigilant, and report any anti-Semitic activity to JewishColumbus.”