Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

An 18-year-old suspect was arrested in Austin synagogue arson case

(JTA) — A suspect has been arrested related to a fire set at an Austin synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, on Oct. 31.

Franklin Barrett Sechriest, 18, was arrested Wednesday by arson investigators with the Austin Fire Department. Investigators identified Sechriest using surveillance footage that showed the license plate on the car he allegedly used to get to the synagogue.

The fire, which was set on Halloween night, caused an estimated $25,000 of damage to the building, according to the Austin Fire Department. According to a donation page on the synagogue’s website, the fire destroyed the synagogue’s carved wooden doors, damaged the building’s stained glass windows and caused smoke damage throughout the sanctuary.

The Austin Fire Department had appealed to the public to help identify the suspect, who they described as a white male. Video showed the man carrying a 5-gallon jerry can container, likely with the liquid accelerant used to set the fire at the entrance of the synagogue.

The fire was the latest in a series of antisemitic incidents in the Austin area. On Oct. 24, members of the Goyim Defense League, a neo-Nazi group, hung banners from an overpass near the local Jewish Community Center as well as a number of synagogues proclaiming “Vax the Jews.” Though the banner was removed and the demonstration around it broken up by police, an identical banner was hung from the same intersection just two days later. At the time, leaders of the Shalom Austin JCC warned community members that the group might stage further demonstrations in the area in the coming days.

In a statement, Rabbi Steve Folberg, the senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel, thanked the investigators for their work on the case and noted a recent increase in antisemitic incidents in Texas.

“It gives us some sense of relief to learn of this arrest, but we are staying vigilant. Across Central Texas and beyond, we are seeing a spike in attacks against Jews,” Folberg said.


The post An 18-year-old suspect was arrested in Austin synagogue arson case appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.