Man, 19, Accused in Two Separate Firebomb Attacks on NJ Synagogues

Authorities believe the suspect acted alone and Googled nearby synagogues to attack.

By Jonathan Dienst, Shimon Prokupecz and Joe Valiquette
|  Wednesday, Nov 14, 2012  |  Updated 11:38 PM EDT
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A 19-year-old has been arrested in two synagogue firebombings in New Jersey. He allegedly hatched his attack plan with items purchased at an area discount store. John Noel reports from Rutherford.

NBC New York

A 19-year-old has been arrested in two synagogue firebombings in New Jersey. He allegedly hatched his attack plan with items purchased at an area discount store. John Noel reports from Rutherford.

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A 19-year-old New Jersey man is accused of tossing explosives into two synagogues, including one in Rutherford where a rabbi and his family were sleeping, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli identified the suspect as Anthony Graziano, of Lodi, N.J.

Authorities believe he acted alone in both attacks, a week apart, and was motivated by anti-Jewish bias. There was no known connection with the synagogues he targeted, and authorities said he simply Googled area temples.

No one was seriously injured when several objects, including a rigged aerosol can and a Molotov cocktail, were thrown into the synagogue in Rutherford on Jan. 11, but Graziano has been charged with first-degree attempted murder, bias intimidation and aggravated arson in that attack.

The building houses Congregation Beth El, a school, and a residence where Rabbi Nosson Schuman lives with his family.

One of the firebomb devices crashed through Schuman's second-floor bedroom window at about 4:30 a.m., burning him on the hand. His wife, five children and mother- and father-in-law escaped unscathed.

Nosson said Tuesday that the arrest was "a worry off everybody's shoulders."

In the Paramus attack on Jan. 3, Graziano is charged with first-degree aggravated arson and bias intimidation.

The suspect's father, also named Anthony Graziano, told NBC New York that his son is a "great kid" and that he must have been coerced by someone if he indeed committed the crimes prosecutors are alleging.

"This is not my son," said the elder Graziano. "This kid loves everyone."

Authorities released photos of a possible suspect last week. He was seen on surveillance video wearing a red and black track suit, black sneakers and a red wool skullcap. He was carrying a camouflage backpack.

Prosecutors say they received several tips after releasing the photos, and confirmed it was Graziano on Monday.

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