A $5,000 reward is being offered for information after someone sprayed a bigoted message containing expletives against Jewish people on the walls of an Irvine synagogue.
Surveillance video captured the unknown person defacing Beth Jacob Congregation at around 1:00 a.m. last Wednesday. Irvine Police have since launched a hate crime investigation.
The congregation’s unease is heightened by the timing. The graffiti was spray painted just four days after a gunman opened fire on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people and wounding 6 others, in the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history.
This is not the first time Beth Jacob has a been a target of extremists. Authorities found references to the synagogue among possessions belonging to Nicholas Rose, who was charged with attempted hate crime threats seven months ago. Prosecutors say Rose kept “kill lists” and instructions for “killing my first Jew.”
Irvine police have already stepped up patrols at Jewish facilities around the city. Beth Jacob board president Allen Berezovsky said the synagogue will receive a grant from the Department of Homeland Security for increased security measures. A GoFundMe page has also been created.
As County News reported in September, Orange County has seen a steady increase in hate crimes over the past few years.
While Irvine police continue their search for the suspect, word comes that the person responsible for a spate of similar attacks against synagogues on the East Coast was finally apprehended Friday. Authorities say James Polite, 26, once served as an intern for former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, where he helped craft anti-hate crime initiatives for the city.