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Authorities confirm arrest in firebombing of Rutherford rabbi’s home

Photo Credit: Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office
Photo Credit: Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office
Photo Credit: Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office
Photo Credit: Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office

CLIFFVIEW PILOT SCOOP: A massive search of a Lodi home last night led to the arrest of a suspect in the firebombing of a Rutherford rabbi’s home, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . One of the pieces of evidence: Orange Crush soda.

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli this morning said his investigators arrested 19-year-old Anthony M. Graziano in connection with the Jan. 11 firebombing of a Rutherford rabbi’s home and a Jan. 3 arson at a Paramus synagogue. Bail is $5 million. READ MORE….

PHOTOS: Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office

I mages authorized for release last Friday by Molinelli show a man buying h air spray, duct tape and bottles of Orange Crush soda a t the Wal-Mart on Route 46 in Saddle Brook that were used in the pre-dawn firebombing.

A reward was offered.


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“Just about everything recovered from the scene was bought” at the store where the images were taken, a source with direct knowledge of the investigation told CLIFFVIEW PILOT yesterday. Various sources in different areas of law enforcement confirmed that report.

The Orange Crush bottles are believed connected an X-Box game that two Florida honor students cited as their inspiration for throwing more than a dozen Molotov cocktails at cars and a house in Florida two years ago, a source with direct konwledge of the investigation told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

In another incident, authorities in Salt Lake City last year arrested a man who they said threw Orange Crush soda bottles filled with an accelerant into a target’s home.

The soda bottles were bought at Wal-Mart.


The New Jersey manhunt began after a Molotov cocktail crashed through the bedroom window of Rabbi Rabbi Nosson Schuman — who lives above Congregation Beth El on Montross Avenue with his wife, parents and five children — around 4:30 a.m. Jan. 11.

As CLIFFVIEW PILOT first reported, Schuman extinguished the flames and called police, who found several other homemade incendiary devices on the roof — leading to the belief that whomever tossed them was specifically targeting Schuman.

“If those devices were meant for the temple or the school [downstairs], they wouldn’t have been thrown up at the second floor,” a law enforcement source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT
.

The manhunt quickly intensified, involving not only the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and local police agencies but also the FBI and ATF, as well as the New Jersey State Police. Gov. Christie sent a representative from the Attorney General’s Office, as well.

Bergen County’s top public safety leaders later told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that unprecedented 24-hour patrols of Bergen County’s religious and ethnic community facilities would continue for the indefinite future. Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, Police Chief Brian Higgins and Sheriff Michael Saudino made the historic pact after meeting with Jewish leaders and others.

Every
individual police department in the county was on the lookout.

The security measures were hoped to bring the added benefit of resources concentrated on finding whomever was responsible for the firebombing and possibly for a small arson fire set behind Congregation K’hal Adath Jeshurun in Paramus, he said .

“This is certainly a hate crime. This is certainly a bias crime,” Molinelli said of the Rutherford attack.

Rabbi Nosson Schuman

Investigators haven’t connected the graffiti taggings of swastikas and other reprehensible symbols on or near Bergen County temples in recent weeks to the more aggressive, hostile, serious attack in Rutherford. The graffiti incidents include three in Fair Lawn and one at Van Saun Park in nearby Paramus that bear similar markings.

Although people commonly know of Molotov cocktails as bottles filled with gas and ignited by a kerosene-soaked wick stuffed into the mouth, some devices instead involve a chemical or gel and gasoline mix that ignites when the container breaks.









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