Police said Friday they will pursue a murder charge for the man suspected of stabbing another man to death in an apparent road rage incident in the central city of Holon earlier this week.
The announcement of the murder charge came in a quick U-turn by police after public outcry when it was initially revealed the suspect would face a manslaughter indictment.
Yuri Volkov was stabbed to death on Wednesday evening after a brief confrontation with a motorbike driver who carried out an illegal maneuver, endangering pedestrians crossing a road.
The suspect, arrested a day after the killing, was named publicly for the first time on Friday as 22-year-old Adi Mizrahi.
The Holon resident appeared at a Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court hearing where his detention was extended for six days.
Police had requested the hearing be held behind closed doors, but the judge refused.
The court initially heard Mizrahi was suspected of manslaughter, conspiracy to commit a crime, obstruction of justice, and aiding and abetting a crime after the fact.
However, with the announcement of charges, there was immediate public outcry and anger from the victim’s family, who said they had not been told in advance that police would not be pursuing a murder charge.
“If this is not a case of murder then the State of Israel should just be shut down. An individual who murdered an innocent person for no logical reason must rot in prison forever,” the family said in a statement.
Within an hour, an updated charge sheet was released.
Mizrahi was arrested Thursday at a home in Holon, during which a “dangerous breed” dog jumped on the officers and bit two of them, injuring them moderately and lightly, according to police.
“The detectives fired at the dog, wounded it, and neutralized it,” a statement added.
A woman who was in the home with the suspect was lightly hurt by shrapnel from the gunfire.
Family and coworkers eulogized Volkov, who worked as a healthcare aide.
Holding a picture of her husband while her son hugged her, Lena Volkov, Yuri’s widow, who had been with him at the time of the stabbing, described the incident.
“We were crossing the road. We had a green light and he [the driver] had a red light. We told him it was not okay, that he was doing something wrong… that’s why he killed him,” she said in a video shared by Ichilov Hospital, where she and Yuri worked.
In dashcam footage of the incident taken from a nearby car, Lena can be seen crossing the street while the crosswalk light appears to be green. The man on the moped attempts to cut her off as she crosses, whereupon Yuri Volkov begins a verbal argument.
The suspect then appears to swipe at Volkov with something before quickly driving away. Volkov walks off the road and appears to talk to his wife for a bit, before dropping to the ground.
Lena said the attacker seemed suspicious to her from the first moment.
“I looked at him and knew that something was wrong, there was something about him,” she said in tears.
According to a relative cited by Channel 12 news, Lena had taken a picture of the attacker after he made the illegal turn and almost hit her.
“She managed to take a picture of the man who almost ran into her. He noticed that and told her, ‘Give me your phone.’ Her husband replied by saying, ‘Keep driving, it’s fine.’ At that moment he stabbed him in the heart. He told Lena he wasn’t feeling well and dropped to the ground,” the unnamed relative told the network.
In an interview with 103FM Radio, Shira Peleg, who worked as Yuri’s direct manager at the hospital, described him as a “sensitive and humble” person who was always trying to help others.
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“Yuri worked at the hospital’s emergency room for nearly 20 years, helping nurses… He really was one of the most humane people one can imagine,” Peleg said.
“We’re heartbroken. It’s hard to believe that a person who was supposed to come in in two or three hours and treat others just died all of a sudden. Such an unnecessary death of a person with a family, children, grandchildren, and to think that it happened next to his wife,” she added.
“He was such a sensitive and humble person, so dedicated, everyone will tell you that. I’ve been rattled since yesterday. How could a person just cross the road and die?”
Volkov is survived by his wife, three children and a granddaughter.
The killing came just weeks after a road rage incident that put a man in intensive care was caught on camera and shocked the nation.
In that incident, a motorcyclist used his helmet to hit a driver several times on the head on Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Highway, knocking the victim unconscious.
The man suffered skull fractures and intracranial bleeding and was hospitalized in intensive care, though his condition later improved. The motorcyclist, Arik Greenfeld, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.