Rashid Baz has admitted his shooting attack was racially motivated
Scene of the 1995 Brooklyn Bridge shooting that killed Yeshiva student Ari Halberstam
The livery driver whose two-gun attack on a group of Hasidic students on the Brooklyn Bridge shocked the city 18 years ago has finally admitted that he targeted them because they were Jewish, The Post has learned.
Rashid Baz was convicted in 1995 of murdering Yeshiva student Ari Halberstam, 16, and trying to kill more than a dozen others in a van with a hail of bullets he fired on a Manhattan approach to the bridge on March 1, 1994.
Baz initially told cops he opened fire because of a traffic dispute. But in 2007 Baz finally confessed that he targeted his victims, tailing their van for about two miles before the shooting, an admission that had never been made public until now.
Since Baz is already serving a minimum of 141 years in state prison, authorities believe there is no reason to pursue hate-crime or other new charges, law-enforcement sources said.
Detectives never believed Baz’s traffic-dispute defense but discounted the widely spread rumors that he was part of a terror-linked conspiracy.
During a five-week trial, Baz’s lawyer claimed the shooter suffered serious trauma while growing up during the Lebanese civil war and was suffering from post- traumatic stress disorder at the time of the slaying.
But in his confession years later, Baz said he first saw the van outside the Manhattan Eye and Ear Infirmary, on East 14th Street, where Lubavitcher spiritual leader Rabbi Menachem Schneerson was undergoing minor surgery.
He said he followed the van and targeted the occupants because of an earlier West Bank attack by Israeli settlers on Muslims. Asked if he would have shot at a van of black or Latino people, he told the investigators, “No, I only shot them because they were Jewish.”
Baz fired two guns, blowing out one of the windows of his blue Chevrolet. Then he drove calmly back to his car-service headquarters in Brooklyn and told co-workers he had shot up the van for no particular reason.
The other occupants of the van, including two who were critically wounded, survived.
A year later, the bridge’s southbound ramp was renamed the Ari Halberstam Ramp.