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Vandals target historic Jewish cemetery in University City

UNIVERSITY CITY, MO (KTVI) – Investigators with the University City Police Department are working to determine who knocked over or damaged dozens of headstones at a local Jewish cemetery over the weekend.

Police would not say if they considered the vandalism at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery to be a hate crime.

It is believed there was some organization behind the crime, meaning this was not the act of one individual.

The tombstones vandalized are in an older section of the cemetery; much of which pre-date 1960. The damage was discovered Monday.

A steady stream of people were stopping by to see if the toppled headstones belonged to any of their family members who are buried at the site.

"These are holocaust survivors that are in here. They shouldn't have to endure any more trauma. Let them be settled," said Robin Rickerman whose elders including great aunts and uncles are buried at the gravesite.

"I can't believe people would do that any where to anyone, it's just wrong," said Golda Burke, whose grandparents on her father's side are buried on the other side of the vandalized site.

"It's not okay." she said, "It's never okay to desecrate the dead."

More than 100 headstones were damaged. Police said they're reviewing security camera footage from the area. The investigation coincides with yet another round of bomb threats at Jewish community centers across the nation.

According to cemetery executive director Anita Feigenbaum, a clean-up effort is being planned. Feigenbaum said the Muslim community has offered to help with the effort as well.

All Nations Church is collecting donations to be given to the cemetery.