Paramus Temple Was Targeted By Firebomber
Police found Molotov cocktails near Paramus synagogue
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said Friday Anthony M. Graziano was planning to attack the Jewish Community Center in Paramus.
The Paramus Police Department discovered eight empty bottles and gasoline in a wooded area near the synagogue on Wednesday.
On Jan. 7, a custodian reported finding several cans of spray paint and air freshener on the stoop of the temple. Investigators believe Graziano used aerosol cans to spread the fire caused by Molotov cocktails in the Rutherford incident, Molinelli said.
But it wasn't until the Rutherford incident that police were able to discern the significance of the spray cans.
After learning of the spray cans, Paramus Police Capt. Ken Ehrenberg said police swept the area near the Jewish Community Center three times before finding the Molotov cocktails.
Molinelli also revealed security footage taken from inside the Jewish Community Center at about 2:20 a.m. on Jan. 7 that shows a man he believes is Graziano walking back and forth in front of the entrance. Molinelli believes Graziano would have attacked the synagogue that night, but was scared off, possibly by a Paramus patrol vehicle.
"Because of the heightened police awareness, particularly in Paramus as a result of the Jan. 3 incident, we believe that, and it is highly probable, that a Paramus Police patrol vehicle may have spooked Mr. Graziano," Molinelli said.
On the same morning that the spray cans were discovered, a woman found a bicycle nearby, Molinelli said. He believes Graziano ditched the bike, along with the Molotov cocktails after being scared off.
In addition to several attempted murder, arson and bias intimidation charges in connection with the Rutherford and Jan. 3 Paramus incidents, Graziano is now also being charged with second degree attempted aggravated arson, bias intimidation and possession of a destructive device for no lawful purchase.
If convicted on all counts, Graziano could face 95 years in prison, Molinelli said.
Molinelli credited the Paramus Police Department with taking the initiative to continue checking for evidence. Police found the bottles in a wooded area more than 100 yards away from the synagogue.
"It was a big jigsaw puzzle," Ehrenberg said of the case. "And we had to put all these pieces together."
Rabbi Arthur Weiner of the Jewish Community Center said police told him what they had found several days ago.
"It's of great concern to us," he said. "We are angry, but at the same time, we are very grateful for the tremendous cooperation and support we've had from local law enforcement."