Prosecutors to upgrade charge against man accused of expressing ‘hate’ outside Miami-Dade synagogue

Miami Gardens resident arrested in Sunny Isles Beach, charged with new state law making it a felony to ‘willfully and maliciously’ disturb religious services

MIAMI – A man with “YEHSHUA” and “YHWH” tattoos on his face recently stood outside of an Orthodox synagogue to blow a horn in Sunny Isles Beach, police said.

Yudel Herrero also used “antisemitic speech” near the entrance during Sukkot, a week-long Jewish holiday that celebrates the fall harvest, police said.

“There is no place in our community, or any community, for those who revel in spouting hate,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement to announce that her prosecutors were working Monday to charge Herrero with a third-degree felony.

Police officers arrested Herrero, 47, who was born in Cuba and lives in Miami Gardens, on Sunday, in the area of Collins Avenue and 180 Street, records show.

Herrero remained at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on Monday facing a charge of disturbing a religious assembly, a misdemeanor, records show. Fernandez Rundle said a new law made the upgrade possible.

“We were lucky that there was a new Florida statute that went into effect just recently,” Fernandez Rundle said. “It makes it a third-degree felony for someone to willfully and maliciously disturb religious services.”

Police officers arrested Yudel Herrero on Sunday in Sunny Isles Beach. (MDCR)

According to the police arrest form released on Monday, Herrero was at the King David Chabad, also known as Chabad Lubavitch of Sunny Isles Beach, on Friday, shouting anti-semitic statements to “willfully and maliciously” harass people.

Herrero’s behavior at the corner of Atlantic Boulevard and Northeast 175 Terrace prompted the rabbi to halt the service during Shabbas, Judaism’s day of rest, police said. It wasn’t the first time Herrero allegedly disrupted prayer there.

“We’re happy things were taken care of in a swift way,” said Rabbi Yisrael Baron of King David Chabad. “Individuals like this need to know that words matter and we don’t have the liberty to threaten people.”

Herrero has also been “peeking through the windows” of the Chabad and pacing “back and forth” near the entrance, according to police. Herrero denied the accusations during an interrogation on Sunday, according to police.

“There have been multiple incidents involving the defendant over the past month, with the defendant escalating in behavior by now using threatening statements, where they now fear for their safety,” Officer Michael Pascual wrote in his report on Sunday.

Sgt. Melissa Porro, a spokeswoman for the Sunny Isles Police Department, said Herrero shouted at a man who was walking into the Chabad.

“We knew he was a danger to the community,” Porro said on Monday, adding the man was wearing “dressings which were indicative of someone who practices the Jewish religion.”

Herrero appeared in bond court on Monday, and a judge set his bond at $1,500 and ordered house arrest, county inmate records show. Sunny Isles Beach Police Chief Edward Santiago also released a statement on Monday saying he and his officers “will not tolerate any form of hate.”

The bond court judge also ordered him to stay away from the synagogue for six months, court records show. Court records show Herrero’s next hearing is at 8:30 a.m., on Wednesday.

“We will continue to work with the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office to ensure that there will be consequences for this type of hate,” Santiago said.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Julie Harris Nelson will be presiding over the case. Circuit Judge Cristina Rivera Correa is the alternate.

Detectives were asking anyone with information about the case to call Miami-Dade County Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.


About the Authors:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."