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Chicago police on alert after attempted arson and vandalism at synagogues

Chicago police are on alert after an attempted arson attack and vandalism at synagogues in the city, according to a police department spokesman.Chicag...

Posted: May 20, 2019 6:04 AM
Updated: May 20, 2019 9:00 AM

Chicago police are on alert after an attempted arson attack and vandalism at synagogues in the city, according to a police department spokesman.

Chicago Police Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio has ordered special attention at all Jewish schools, synagogues and businesses, according to a tweet from Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi.

Police said an attempted arson was reported at two adjacent locations in the Lakeview neighborhood between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

According to CNN affiliate WLS, a man threw three bottles filled with accelerant at the Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation and at an adjacent community center. WLS reported that the FBI and Chicago Police were investigating the case as a potential hate crime, with the attempted arson caught on surveillance video.

'The offender used a Molotov at both locations but resulted in no fire damage and no injuries were reported,' the department said in a release.

Police have released a photo of a man they are trying to identify in relation to the attempted arson.

They say the suspect appears to be a male with a light-skinned complexion, wearing a black hoodie, black pants, and black shoes while carrying a black bag.

Guglielmi said detectives were also investigating a spate of vandalism involving cars parked outside synagogues in the Rogers Park District of the city.

A police media release lists 14 different incidences of vehicles having their windows smashed with rocks or bricks in the district since the beginning of May.

'We have different suspects in both incidents,' Guglielmi tweeted.

Molotov cocktail

Rabbi David Wolkenfeld told WLS that footage of the incident at the Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation had been hard to watch.

'We saw that someone had tried to throw some sort of Molotov cocktail at the synagogue,' Wolkenfeld told the station.

'You could see someone walking behind the building carrying some things and you could see some fire and you can see trying to throw the fire -- some sort of bottle being thrown at the building.'

He told WLS that the building had significance for hundreds.

'This is a building that is the center of the community for hundreds of families. There are hundreds of people whose lives revolve around this congregation and around this building -- and we love it and we love living here and we love living in this neighborhood -- and to see somebody act in such a violent hateful way against a building that we all love that means so much to so many people was very hard to watch,' he said.

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