At least one suspect has been identified as a “person of interest” in the anti-Semitic crime spree that terrorized a Texas Jewish neighborhood in San Antonio last week, but authorities have declined to release a name.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says the attacks have been classified as a series of hate crimes but thus far no formal charges have been filed.
The FBI will pay $5,000 for information leading to the identification and arrest of the individual responsible for the vandalism, Special Agent Michelle Lee announced late Thursday.
Dozens of homes and cars were vandalized on August 12 in the neighborhood surrounding the Orthodox synagogue, Congregation Rodfei Sholom, which serves some 300 families. Most live nearby so they can walk to synagogue on the Sabbath and holidays.
Rabbi Arye Scheinberg expressed shock over the attacks. “We’ve never had any problems in the past,” he said.
The word “Jew” was spray-painted on an SUV, swastikas were spray-painted on Jewish memorials, the letters “KKK” and other slogans were scrawled on 30 targets – across cars, walls, fences and memorials on Sholom Drive and Sholom Place near the synagogue. Other graffiti was found in the Oak Meadow subdivision across Northwest Military.
“This is not just graffiti, this is an orchestrated effort to try to intimidate an entire community of people based on their religious beliefs and we cannot stand for it,” State Sen. Jose Menedez said in a prepared statement to MySanAntonio.com.
Pastor John Hagee, whose world-renowned ministry is based in San Antonio, told media he met with Scheinberg at the synagogue.
“I came over immediately because in this city Christians and Jews are united like no other city in the United States of America,” Hagee told the San Antonio Express. “An attack on the synagogue is an attack on every Christian church in this city.”
Rabbi Scheinberg said he was grateful for Pastor Hagee’s friendship and the support of Christians United For Israel (CUFI), which the pastor heads.
“They have been a global source of inspiration and encouragement to the Jewish people,” the rabbi said. “To imagine that a world leader like John Hagee would stop his busy schedule to be with us and to give support…”
Scheinberg said members of the congregation first noticed a car appeared to have been broken into after morning prayers. Then they noticed the swastikas. At least one vehicle had a large rock hurled through the driver’s side window.
Congressman Joaquin Castro, (D-San Antonio), also promptly responded to support the congregation.
“The ugly vandalism targeting San Antonio’s Jewish community is saddening and disgraceful,” Castro said. “This intolerance has no place in our city. San Antonio’s diversity is what makes our community so vibrant and special. Our differences should be celebrated, not attacked.”
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also echoed Castro’s comments. “This criminal and cowardice act has no place in any Texas community,” Patrick said.
“I denounce the religious persecution that has taken place and I am confident the San Antonio Police Department will find those responsible for the delinquency and hold them accountable.
Hana Levi Julian