HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) — A 19-year-old man was charged Tuesday with attempted murder and hate crimes in connection with the recent firebombings of two northern New Jersey synagogues, acts that put the region's Jewish community on edge and prompted round-the-clock police patrols.
The Bergen County prosecutor charged Anthony Graziano, of Lodi, with the Jan. 11 attack on a Rutherford synagogue and the Jan. 3 firebombing of a synagogue in Paramus.
The charges include bias charges and nine counts of attempted murder. The prosecutor's office scheduled a 2 p.m. news conference.
Several Molotov cocktails and other incendiary devices were thrown at Congregation Beth El in Rutherford early on Jan. 11, igniting a fire in the second-floor bedroom of Rabbi Nosson Schuman's residence. The rabbi, his wife, five children and his parents were sleeping at the time. Police said an incendiary device was thrown through the rabbi's bedroom and ignited, and the rabbi suffered minor burns on his hands while putting it out.
"I'm elated," Schuman said Tuesday. "It's been a very stressful two weeks even with police coverage at our home. We're still a little scared because obviously this guy's not normal. Maybe this will restore life back to some normality, though we will still be doing outreach to try and restore unity."
The fire at Congregation K'Hal Adath Jeshuran in Paramus was discovered on the morning of Jan. 3 when members smelled gas in the building and contacted authorities. Fire and police officials determined an accelerant had been used in the rear of the building to start a fire. The fire had quickly burned itself out, and no injuries were reported.
In the weeks leading up to the fire bombings, anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered at synagogues in Hackensack and Maywood, according to police. Two days after the Rutherford attack, a swastika was found scrawled in a park in Fair Lawn, though police haven't said if it is connected to the other incidents.