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Michael Jackson-Bolanos charged in murder of Jewish Detroit leader Samantha Woll

The 28-year-old is charged with "committing a felony murder during the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a larceny and/or a first-degree home invasion."

JCRC/AJC board member Samantha Woll lighting candles in March 2018. Credit: Courtesy of JCRC/AJC.
JCRC/AJC board member Samantha Woll lighting candles in March 2018. Credit: Courtesy of JCRC/AJC.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office has charged Michael Jackson-Bolanos, 28, of Detroit, with the Oct. 21 murder of Samantha Woll, 40, president of the egalitarian Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue.

“Jackson-Bolanos has been charged with committing a felony murder during the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a larceny and/or a first-degree home invasion,” the Detroit Police Department stated. “He is also charged with one count of home invasion and one count of lying to a peace officer during a four-year or more crime investigation.”

The department held a suspect, who knew Woll, for 72 hours last month. On Sunday, police took a different suspect into custody, who “is not an acquaintance of Woll’s and appears to be a random stranger,” sources told The Detroit News. “The sources reiterated Sunday that there is no evidence that Woll’s death was a hate crime.”

The second suspect, who is reportedly Jackson-Bolanos, “has been on detectives’ radar since early in the investigation,” two Detroit police sources told the paper.

James White, the Detroit police chief, has also said that antisemitism hasn’t been ruled out in the investigation.

U.S. President Joe Biden was briefed on the killing, but despite the president often talking about rising antisemitism in the United States and despite Woll’s involvement in Democrat Party politics, the president has not issued a statement that was posted to the White House website.

On Nov. 2, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who called Woll a “friend and a member of our organizing community,” honored the murdered Jewish leader on the House floor. “She was a deeply loved member of our social justice community. She was a friend of mine,” the member of the so-called “Squad” said.

“Our mutual friend, Dan, reminded me how she showed up to my swearing-in ceremony with that beautiful, sweet smile and the warmest eyes that greet you. She embraced him in a hug, saying she was so happy that he showed up and how important it was,” Tlaib said. “That is who she was. She showed up for others always.”

“Her organizing work, from progressive politics to interfaith work between Jewish and Muslim communities, has built bridges and made our communities stronger,” Tlaib added, speaking on the House floor. “Please keep her loved ones and our community in your prayers as her family seeks justice and healing during this difficult time.”

Tlaib also spoke about Woll on the House floor on Oct. 26.

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