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NJ man arrested for firebombing synagogues

Anthony Graziano
Bergen County Prosecutors Office
Anthony Graziano
Bergen County Prosecutor's Office

(CBS) HACKENSACK, N.J. - Police arrested a New Jersey teen Tuesday for the firebombing of a synagogue earlier this month, reports CBS New York.

Anthony Graziano, 19, was charged with nine counts of first-degree attempted murder, one count of first-degree bias intimidation and one count of first-degree aggravated arson for the Jan. 11 attack in Rutherford. He also faces arson and bias charges related to an attack on a second synagogue on Jan. 3.

Graziano's father, also named Anthony, says he doesn't believe his son committed the crime, or if he did he was "coerced."

"He does not hate Jewish people," Graziano's father told CBS New York. "I don't care what the prosecutor says. I know my son."

But a classmate of Graziano's said, "For the past two months he's been talking about how much he hates Jews because they were going to take over the country. This kid is crazy. He's insane."

Investigators said they found internet searches of both temples on Graziano's computer. Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli described him as an unemployed loner, who was obsessed with Xbox and had a brewing hatred for Jews.

"We have no doubt that the arson and the attempted murder in Rutherford were directly the result of Mr. Graziano's hatred for people of Jewish faith," Molinelli said.

Graziano's arrest was prompted by tips called in after the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office released surveillance video last week of a "person of interest" leaving a Walmart in Saddle Brook after buying materials to make Molotov cocktails. Police say Graziano is the man seen in the knit cap and riding a bike in the images.

Police were able to link all of the firebomb ingredients to the same Walmart, and found a receipt showing a purchase for duct tape, three cans of Suave aerosol spray, Crush soda bottles and motor oil, said Molinelli.

"He's my blood and I don't know what happened. He just, I have no idea. I'm just, I'm like flabbergasted," said Graziano's father.

Overnight on January 10, several Molotov cocktails were hurled at Rabbi Nossom Schuman and his family inside their residence next to Congregation Beth El. One landed on the rabbi's bed.

"We don't have to worry about being bombed and we still have to work on understanding each other and getting along better but I think this fear of attack is off our shoulders," Rabbi Schuman told 1010 WINS following news of Graziano's arrest.

The Rutherford attack is one of four in Bergen County in the past few months.

"I don't think he was the member of the 'A' team considering the minimal damage that was done," Rabbi Schuman said.

Schuman also said that since the attacks, his synagogue has raised enough money through public donations to install surveillance cameras at the temple.