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Molotov Cocktails Found Outside a Synagogue Have Put Chicago Police on High Alert

Chicago Deputy Superintendent ordered “special attention at all Jewish schools, synagogues and businesses."

by Tess Owen
May 20 2019, 3:02pm

After Molotov cocktails were found outside a synagogue and an adjacent Jewish community center over the weekend, Chicago police are ramping up security at Jewish schools and synagogues in the city.

Investigators found three broken glass bottles containing an unknown substance and charred black cloth towels outside the Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in the Lake View East neighborhood. Nobody was hurt, and none of the buildings were damaged. Police believe the suspect tried to light the building on fire sometime between 9 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

Police said they’re investigating the incident as attempted arson and a possible hate crime. They also released surveillance images of a potential suspect, described by police as a “light-skinned male wearing a hooded black jacket, black pants, and black shoes and carrying a black bag.”

Police are also investigating a “pattern of cars with windows smashed” outside the Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation and another synagogue six miles away over the weekend. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that they were pursuing “two different suspects in both incidents.”

Chicago Deputy Superintendent ordered “special attention at all Jewish schools, synagogues and businesses” following the incidents over the weekend, said Guglielmi Sunday evening.

The suspected arson attack against the Chicago synagogue adds to an uptick in suspected arson attempts on houses of worship nationwide.

Last week, police near Massachusetts investigated a string of three of intentional fires at Jewish community centers. Earlier the same week, police in New Haven, Connecticut, said that the fire which tore through the Diyanet mosque on the seventh day of Ramadan was also intentionally set.

image: This Sunday, May 19, 2019 image taken from video provided by the Chicago Police Department shows a person that police say they're seeking to identify who was seen on surveillance video about 12:30 a.m. Sunday near Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation in the city's Lakeview neighborhood. Police say the person tried to use Molotov cocktails to cause a fire, but no damage or injuries were reported. (Chicago Police Department via AP)