A federal grand jury has indicted a young man for allegedly setting fire to a synagogue. Franklin Barrett SechriestThe 19-year-old previously faced charges of damaging religious property, using fire to commit a federal crime and arson.
Prosecutors said Sechriest set fire to the Beth Israel Church in Austin, Texas on Halloween.
“The damage was extensive, including the destruction of our historic doors and damage to the exterior of our building and stained glass windows you see above,” the synagogue said. know in a statement asking for donations to fix. “Unfortunately, our reserve has been severely damaged by smoke, and remediation and restoration will take time and money.”
Surveillance footage shows the suspect carrying a 5-gallon container and toilet paper to the synagogue, the US Justice Department said in a statement. a press statement Thursday. Cameras recorded the light of the fire coming from the sanctuary, and Sechriest jogging into a vehicle, authorities said.
Investigators discovered items similar to or related to that item in the video, including clothing and a receipt for a 5-gallon container, the DOJ said. He also kept handwritten diaries about the fire.
Authorities said that he kept a daily activity log, which contained a confession.
“I burned a synagogue,” read one of his notes from October 31.
Authorities say Sechriest on October 28 spied on the synagogue, arriving at its Child Development Center. He wrote that he was scouting “one target,” and he wrote “return to base.”
2, prosecutors said the suspect robbed four Blacks and one Hispanic at Texas State University last August. Sechriest was a student at the school, according to court records. Sechriest, who is white, is accused of expressing anti-Semitic and anti-black hatred in his writings.
The magazines also detailed his purchase and use of firearms, Molotov cocktails, and other dangerous weapons, prosecutors wrote. “When Defendant was arrested in November 2021, he was found with materials commonly used in making Molotov cocktails, indicating intent to engage in more violent criminal behavior and increasing the severity of the crime. his danger.”
Sechriest’s lawyer Daniel H. Wannamaker requested mental and psychological testing of his client, which found the 19-year-old unfit for trial.
“This mental illness or impairment may render FRANKLIN BARRETT SECHRIEST so mentally incompetent that he may not understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or be unable to assist legitimately in his defense,” he wrote in a Feb. 9 application.
That’s still ongoing, Wannamaker told Law & Crime in a phone interview on Friday. He says his clients live with autism and Tourette syndrome. Wannamaker claims there were two victims in this case – not just the synagogue, but Sechriest as well. Sechriest’s conditions make him vulnerable to right-wing, nationalist propaganda on the Internet.
“They are the real villains,” he said of the propagandists.
Marisa Sarnoff contributed to this report.
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