Jewish-owned pizzeria target of Hialeah man’s anti-Semitic rants, police say

The owner of Jerusalem Pizza in North Miami Beach called police after he said a man had been showing up for several months spewing anti-Semitic rants.

NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Police arrested a Hialeah man on Tuesday after an investigation into reports that he was making anti-Semitic remarks and gestures in front of Jewish-owned pizzeria on and off for months.

On May 20, police were called to Jerusalem Pizza on Northeast 167th Street in reference to multiple suspicious incident complaints, according to a police report.

Joseph Manson, the owner of Jerusalem Pizza told Local 10 News, “We’re not going to take it. We’re not scared. We’re not afraid.”

A police report details the anti-Jewish words and gestures that police said Christian Santamaria, 39, a Hialeah mechanic of Mexican origin, according to the report, was doing and saying when he would park in the shopping plaza’s lot and approach the business.

Manson said that for several months, a man in white Honda Accord would park his car, come up to the front of the restaurant and begin yelling phrases such as:

“Hail Hitler!, F---- the Jews!, You should’ve all been burned in the gas chambers and Hitler should have killed all you Jewish.”

Manson said he had also seen the man, later identified as Santamaria, raise his right arm to simulate a Nazi salute.

According to the police report, Santamaria’s first reported rant in front of the shop was on Dec. 21, 2020, when he began to shout “I hate the Jewish” and simulated the Nazi salute to the store owner and patrons of the business.

He returned a little more than two hours later making more anti-Semitic comments and gestures, according to the police report. The license plate number of Santamaria’s car was reportedly captured on a cell-phone photo.

On May 13, 2021, a woman called police to say she was parked in front of the pizza shop and the driver of a white Honda Accord parked next to her began to yell: “Why didn’t Hitler throw all of you in the ocean?,’ ‘F------ Jews.”

She took cell phone videos of the car’s license plate.

There has been a spike in anti-Semitic incidents across South Florida, including one last week in Hallandale Beach, where a man dropped off a bag of feces in front of a synagogue and then spit at a menorah, according to police.

Another group attacked tourists from New Jersey in Bal Harbour as they left a synagogue.

There was also a man from Colorado who drove a van with Nazi symbols and slurs in front of pro-Israel demonstrators this month in Miami.

Jerusalem Pizza has been operating in North Miami Beach for 30 years dishing out its kosher pizza.

Manson said he agrees that there is an uptick in anti-Semitism lately.

“I do believe international news based on other events around the world are triggering all these . . . let’s just say ‘crazies’ to wake up and come out,” Manson said.

Santamaria was arrested and charged with felony stalking with prejudice under Florida statute 775.085. As there is no hate crime statute in the state of Florida, the felony of evidencing prejudice while committing an offense means that the alleged crime committed was based on the race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, homeless status, or advanced age of the victim.

About the Authors:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."