Beverly Hills Police are hunting a suspect involved in an overnight break-in and vandalism of a Los Angeles synagogue and are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Authorities were called to the Nessah Synagogue, one of the largest Iranian-Jewish synagogues in the city, at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning when an employee arrived for work to discover that the premises had been ransacked.
After a preliminary investigation, police are looking for a lone suspect described by the Beverly Hills Police Department in a statement as “a male white, 20-25 years of age, short dark curly hair, thin build, possibly wearing prescription glasses, shorts, low top shoes (possibly Pumas), and carried a backpack and pulled a rolling suitcase.”
Authorities say that the suspect forced his way in at approximately 2 a.m. on Saturday morning and moved through the synagogue heavily ransacking the place.
“The suspect disrupted the furnishings, and contents of the synagogue by overturning furniture and distributing brochures and materials throughout the interior,” said the Beverly Hills Police Department. “The suspect damaged several Jewish relics, but fortunately the synagogue’s main scrolls survived unscathed.
Although it does not appear the suspect stole anything from the premises during the rampage and the suspect left no markings or other overt signs of anti-Semitism, police have cause to investigate the incident as a hate crime.
“This cowardly act hits at the heart of who we are as a community,”” said Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch. “It is not just an attack on the Jewish community of Beverly Hills, it’s an attack on all of us. The entire city stands behind Nessah, its members and congregants. We are committed to catching the criminal who desecrated a holy place on Shabbat of all days and bringing him to justice. We are equally committed that our city will continue to be a welcoming place for Jews and for all members of religions and groups.”
Several members of the police involved in the investigations have helped with the clean-up efforts and will also provide additional patrols throughout the Sabbath.
The Nessah Synagogue plans to reopen its doors to congregants and worshipers on Sunday.
Investigations are ongoing and significant efforts are underway to find and locate the suspect involved in the vandalism of the synagogue.