A fire was found outside Congregation Beth Israel in Austin, Texas Sunday, Oct. 31. (Photo/Austin Fire Department)
A fire was found outside Congregation Beth Israel in Austin, Texas Sunday, Oct. 31. (Photo/Austin Fire Department)

FBI charges suspect in Austin synagogue arson

The FBI has charged a suspect already arrested on local charges relating to a fire set at a synagogue in Austin, Texas.

Franklin Barrett Sechriest, 18, was transferred to federal custody on Monday, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Investigators with the Austin fire department arrested him last week on an arson charge related to a fire at Congregation Beth Israel on Oct. 31.

The federal charge document cites alleged entries in Sechriest’s handwritten journal, including one, on the day of the attack, that said, “Scout out a target,” and another that said, after the attack, “I set a synagogue on fire.”

The journal, according to the charge sheet, includes antisemitic and racist entries and images, as well as a to-do list that includes laundry, meditation and checking out Tinder, the dating app.

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 attack followed activity in the Austin area by the Goyim Defense League, a neo-Nazi group run Petaluma resident Jon Minadeo Jr.

Ron Kampeas

JTA D.C. bureau chief

JTA

Content distributed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news service.