Man charged with assault following incident outside Jewish Federation building

Jewish Federation says incident was not antisemitic

By: Mary Beth Almond | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 17, 2023

 Steven Daniel Zalla

Steven Daniel Zalla


BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — A West Bloomfield man has been charged with felonious assault after reportedly pointing a pellet gun at a FedEx driver outside the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit building Nov. 2.

Steven Daniel Zalla, 55, was arraigned via video in 48th District Court Nov. 6 on a charge of felonious assault. He was given a $100,000 bond and was ordered to wear a tether if he posts bond.

If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.

The incident — which occurred around 11:30 a.m. — prompted a brief lockdown of the Max M. Fisher Federation Building, 6735 Telegraph Road in Bloomfield Township.

Nick Soley, the public information officer for the Bloomfield Township Police Department, said Zalla was denied entrance because he didn’t have valid photo identification on him to check in with the front desk.

When he went to his car and returned, he encountered a food delivery person, who saw a gun in his waistband.

At the same time, a FedEx truck driver pulled up in front of the building to deliver a package.

Police say Zalla ordered the delivery driver to move the vehicle, and when the driver did not move fast enough, he pulled the pellet gun and pointed it at the delivery driver.

As the FedEx driver drove away, police said, Zalla ran behind him with the gun in his hand.

Witnessing the incident, building security activated emergency operations, placing the building into lockdown, and called 911 at 11:33 a.m. to report that a man with a gun was in the parking lot.

“I don’t think the Jewish Federation could have acted any better than they did in this situation. They trained for this, they prepared for this, and they have emergency response drills. This is exactly how they should have responded,” Solely said.

The first police units arrived at the scene at 11:36 a.m., and by 11:38 a.m., the suspect was in custody without incident and a firearm was recovered.

“Well after the arrest, when police attempted to make the firearm safe, they determined that it was a pellet gun and not an actual firearm,” said Soley.

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit released a statement Nov. 2 alerting the community that there was a lockdown situation at the Max M. Fisher Federation Building that day and noting that the building was secure, and all employees were safe.

“An individual was apprehended outside the building by the Bloomfield Township Police Department and is now in custody. We believe this individual was having a mental health crisis. Following a police interview with the individual, it was determined that this was NOT an act of antisemitism. We greatly appreciate the swift response of the Bloomfield Township Police, and especially the work of our Jewish Community Security Inc. staff.”

In a Nov. 2 press conference, Bloomfield Township Police Chief James Gallagher dispelled some rumors related to the incident that he said were circulating on social media, noting that there were no shots fired and there were no injuries. Gallagher said this was not an antisemetic incident, adding that Zalla has “mental health concerns.”

During the press conference, Steven Ingber, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, expressed his gratitude to the chief and the Bloomfield Township Police Department for the quick response.

“We feel very fortunate for the strong relationships we hold with them, as well as with our many law enforcement partners. I also want to recognize and commend our officers with the Jewish  Community Security Team for their skillful efforts in managing the situation,” Ingber said Nov. 2. “We’re very grateful this incident has been safely resolved.”

The Birmingham Police Department, the Franklin Police Department and the Bloomfield Township Fire Department assisted in the response.

Zalla’s attorney, Jonathan M. Jones, said he is “very, very grateful” the federation put out “a statement that this was not a terrorist attack, or anything like that.”

“My client is doing everything he can to get healthy and better. When we get to that point, we will move forward with the proceedings,” Jones said.

For more information, contact the Bloomfield Township Police Department at (248) 433-7755.