A New Jersey man who police say attempted to firebomb a synagogue was arrested, the United States Attorney's Office in the District of New Jersey announced.
Nicholas Malindretos, 26, of Clifton, New Jersey, is charged with one count of attempted use of fire to damage or destroy a building used in interstate commerce.
According to court documents, at a little after 3 a.m. on Jan. 29, a surveillance camera caught a person, later identified as Malindretos, approaching the temple. The suspect was wearing a black ski mask, a black or gray hoodie with a white emblem that appeared to be a skull and cross bones, black pants, dark shoes and white gloves.
According to police, the video showed Malindretos approach the entrance of the temple before stopping. He then allegedly ignited a wick on the top of a bottle and threw it at the front glass doors before running away.
Court documents state that a license plate reading device nearby caught a vehicle passing by that night. Police found the vehicle and, after getting a search warrant, found several items that were consistent with what was allegedly used during the incident.
Surveillance footage showed a man that matched the same physical characteristics as Malindretos, police say.
“No one should find that their lives are at risk by exercising their faith,” U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said. “The defendant is alleged to have gone to a synagogue in the middle of the night and maliciously attempted to damage and destroy it using a firebomb. Protecting communities of faith and houses of worship is core to this office’s mission.
"In response to this attempted attack, my office – together with our federal, state, and local partners – worked around the clock to investigate this matter swiftly. We will continue to devote whatever resources are necessary to keep our Jewish community and all New Jersey residents safe.”
Malindretos faces a minimum of five years in prison, with a maximum of 20 years, and a $250,00 fine.
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