Man arrested with attempting to firebomb New Jersey synagogue

Photo courtesy of Township of Bloomfield Division of Public Safety/Facebook
Photo courtesy of Township of Bloomfield Division of Public Safety/Facebook

Feb. 3 (UPI) -- A 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged with attempting to firebomb a New Jersey synagogue over the weekend.

Nicolas Malindretos of Clinton, N.J., made his first appearance in a Newark federal court before Magistrate Judge Edward Kiel on Thursday, after being arrested a day earlier on one count of attempted use of fire to damage a building used in interstate commerce.


Prosecutors accuse Malindretos of throwing a lit Molotov cocktail early Sunday at the Temple Ner Tamid Jewish Congregation located in Bloomfield, N.J.

The charging document states he was captured in surveillance footage wearing a black ski mask, a dark hooded sweatshirt bearing a skull and cross bones emblem, black pants, dark shoes and white cloth gloves as he approached the temple at about 3:20 a.m.

RELATED N.J. borough councilwoman shot and killed while sitting in her car

Prosecutors said video captured him throwing the lit Molotov cocktail at the front glass door of the temple, before fleeing the scene on foot. The building was undamaged and no one was injured, officials said.

U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger for the District of New Jersey told reporters during a press briefing Thursday following Malindretos' initial court appearance that Kiel has ordered the suspect be detained "based on the argument that he would otherwise present danger to the community."


Police arrested Malindretos on Wednesday after officers traced him to the crime through a vehicle spotted at the scene.

RELATED Gunman dead after Memphis police officer shot

According to the charging document, a license plate-reading device located near the synagogue recorded a vehicle shortly before the crime occurred and again minutes afterward.

Law enforcement located the vehicle on Tuesday in the city of Clifton, which is located just northwest of Newark, with the hooded sweatshirt consistent with the one observed in video of the crime spotted on the front seat along with what appeared to be "white cloth items" and "bottles of unidentified liquids," according to the charging document.

A search warrant was executed on the vehicle Wednesday, with law enforcement recovering the sweatshirt, white gloves and a mask.

RELATED Nine people in Texas charged with distributing 1.5 million opioid pills

"Protecting the people of New Jersey is central to the United States attorney's mission," Sellinger said. "No one should fear for their lives because of the exercise of their religion."

Asked if bias charges will be laid, Sellinger said Malindretos faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years if convicted, but the investigation is ongoing and "we will evaluate appropriate charges" based on the evidence that arises.

"I can tell you that creating a civil rights division in the United States attorney's office was done specifically to combat hate crimes, bias and discrimination and our lawyers are focused exclusively on that," he said.


The incident occurred amid a spike in antisemitic attacks in the United states.

According the Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish non-governmental anti-hate group, between June and early December of last year, there had been 121 antisemitic incidents targeting Jewish institutions, though it expects that number to rise as the figure is finalized.

Latest Headlines


Follow Us