Police Arrest Suspect in New York City Synagogue Vandalism Spree

May 2, 2021 Updated: May 2, 2021

Officials in New York City charged a 29-year-old man in connection to several acts of vandalism in the Bronx over the past several days.

Jordan Burnette was charged with burglary as a hate crime and “numerous charges related to the acts of vandalism as hate crimes that have taken place in this community,” Jessica Corey, the head of the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force, announced on Saturday.

Burnette is alleged to have thrown rocks at windows at four Bronx synagogues on April 24 and April 25. They include Young Israel of Riverdale, the Riverdale Jewish Center, the Chabad Lubavitch, and Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel, according to the New York Daily News.

“This has been going on for a few days. This was a department-wide effort,” said John Miller, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, according to CBS New York. “Hopefully life will resume back to normal and people will be able to worship without fear.”

Officials said they used stakeouts, surveillance, and patrols to capture the suspect.

Burnette, who lives in the Bronx’s Riverdale district, was stopped at 3 a.m. Saturday after he was riding his bike against the flow of traffic, Corey said. He refused to cooperate and did not provide identification, she said, according to the New York Post.

The caretaker of Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel told officials that the bike Burnette was riding matched one that was stolen from there.

“When the officers investigated the synagogue’s parking lot, they found siddurim, which are religious prayer books, that were strewn on the ground,” said Corey. “In addition, they discovered an open shed that contained bicycles,” she added to the NY Daily News. Police showed the synagogue caretaker a picture of the bike Burnette was caught riding— and the caretaker confirmed that the bike came from the shed, said police.

Burnette was asked by a NY Daily News reporter about the alleged crimes, he made several religious statements. He stipulated, “I didn’t throw any rocks.”

It was not immediately known whether Burnette had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.