State Watch

Texas teenager accused of arson in Halloween synagogue fire

Getty Images

A Texas teenager has been accused of arson after a synagogue fire on Halloween, the Austin Fire Department said Wednesday.  

Officials identified the suspect as 18-year-old Franklin Barrett Sechriest, who allegedly set Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on fire at around 9 p.m. on Oct. 31,, according to Newsweek.

A photo circulated by the department showed the doors of the synagogue charred, but officials noted that no injuries had been reported. 

The fire department said no one was reportedly in the building when the incident occurred. Officials believe the damages totaled around $25,000, but a member of the synagogue noted that the damages were extensive and still being calculated.

It was not immediately clear if the teenager had an attorney representing him.

“We are grateful to the authorities including the Austin Fire Department, Austin Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their diligent and persistent work investigating this hateful, antisemitic act. It gives us some sense of relief to learn of this arrest, but we are staying vigilant,” senior Rabbi Steve Folberg, said in a statement.

“Across Central Texas and beyond, we are seeing a spike in attacks against Jews. We denounce all acts of bigotry and violence, especially those motivated by blind hatred of any of the proud and distinctive communities that enrich our civic life,” he added.

Surveillance footage showed the suspect parking at the congregation and allegedly carrying what was described as a “heavy green jug.” Footage also showed Sechriest leaving the area as a fire started on the synagogue, according to Newsweek. 

Authorities also noted that footage showed that he apparently traveled to the synagogue just days before the fire took place. 

The Hill has reached out to the Austin Fire Department for more information.

—Updated at 2:37 p.m.

Tags Austin Fire Texas

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

Most Popular

Load more

Video

See all Video