Columbia Police: Deer left dead near synagogue deemed \'accident\'

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COLUMBIA - Police say a dead deer attached to a power line cable on synagogue grounds during one of the Jewish holidays this weekend is an "accident."

A member of the synagogue called police Saturday night after finding the deer. A Columbia police officer investigated the grounds and did not file a formal report.  Department spokesperson Latisha Stroer said the officer thought the deer could have been hit by a car or been killed by some other accidental occurrence. 

However, congregation member Josh Kaplan thinks otherwise.

"It is the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur is,"  Kaplan said.  "It had a tie down wrapped around its neck. I don't think that's random."

Another member, who asked to remain anonymous, said she hopes this situation doesn't draw negative light to the congregation, but instead brings attention to a larger lesson.

"You should always be aware, stand up for yourself, stand up for animals. I mean if this was just some person who was just being cruel to animals, and it wasn't targeted against a person, I hope they catch that person," said the woman. Rabbi Yossi Feintuch said he has heard of a few incidents at other congregations involving hateful symbols, but does not want to assume anything about the situation.

"It was gruesome and eerie and out of the ordinary, yes," Feintuch said. "But I'm not there to jump to any conclusions."

A congregation administrator said the police reported the incident Monday as "suspicious" activity. Columbia police could confirm a new report was filed on that street Monday afternoon, but could not release the specific location or confirm the report had anything to do with the deer.

KOMU 8 attempted to contact the investigating officer, but he did not respond. The department said he is out of the office until Wednesday.