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Man arrested as a suspect in Austin synagogue arson fire

November 11, 2021 GMT

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — An 18-year-old man has been arrested and charged with arson for a fire at an Austin synagogue, officials said.

Franklin Barrett Sechriest was held on a $100,000 bond for the Oct. 31 fire at Congregation Beth Israel, KVUE-TV in Austin reported.

According to the Austin Fire Department, the fire was a “small exterior fire” that caused no injuries but resulted in an estimated $25,000 damage, including the synagogue’s wooden doors.

Arson investigators said broken glass indicated an item might have been thrown at the building, and a flammable liquid accelerated the fire. An arrest affidavit describes surveillance videos from multiple cameras on the property showing a suspect resembling Sechriest driving a black sport utility vehicle registered to a woman living at the same address as Sechriest.

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The fire at the synagogue came a week after a string of antisemitic incidents, including an antisemitic banner displayed from an overpass on a heavily traveled boulevard. It was not immediately clear if the fire was connected to those incidents.