Man facing federal hate crime charges for allegedly breaking into Rutgers Islamic Center during Eid

Prayer stones were damaged and a Palestinian flag was stolen, police said.

April 22, 2024, 3:46 PM

Federal prosecutors charged a man with hate crimes Monday for allegedly breaking into and vandalizing the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University during Eid al-Fitr two weeks ago.

Jacob Beacher, 24, was arrested after investigators said they determined he broke into the center on the New Brunswick, New Jersey, campus on April 10 and vandalized several items, including Turbah prayer stones and art pieces with Quranic verses.

Beacher, who is not affiliated with the university, also allegedly stole a charity box and a Palestinian flag from the center, according to investigators.

The charity box was found four days later in a park near the campus, the criminal complaint said.

Some Muslim members of the campus told New York ABC station WABC they were in shock and horror over the vandalism.

Broken vases, religious art and artifacts are seen in an office inside the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University following a break-in.
Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University (CILRU)

"It's so disheartening and scary because it just solidifies the fact that we aren't safe here," Nehad Ali told WABC a day after the incident.

The FBI used surveillance footage and cellphone data to determine Beacher was a suspect, according to the criminal complaint.

When investigators interviewed Beacher on April 12, he admitted to being in the area of the center during the incident but denied breaking into it, the complaint alleged.

Beacher was awaiting arraignment in Newark federal court on one count of intentional or attempted obstruction of religious practice and one count of making false statements to federal authorities, according to federal prosecutors.

State charges against Beacher are also pending, according to investigators. Attorney information for the suspect wasn't immediately available.

The center received donations to help replace the damaged items, according to its administrators.

Broken lanterns, religious art and artifacts are seen on the floor of the the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University following a break-in.
Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University (CILRU)

"We are humbled by the amazing and generous outpouring from the Rutgers community and the community at large," the center said in a statement released on its Facebook page Monday.

The center's administrators thanked law enforcement for their work and warned of a rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bigotry.

"This incident did not occur in a vacuum. We condemn those that are stoking lies and hate on our campus and those who are engaging in doublespeak that have led to this violence, other acts of hate and bigotry on our campus and in particular against our students," the center said in its statement.

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