Authorities in New Jersey are beefing up security around places of worship after they say a masked man was seen throwing a Molotov cocktail at a synagogue early Sunday.
The suspect was filmed hurling the lit bottle at the Bloomfield building’s entrance in Essex County just after 3 a.m. before fleeing on foot. The bottle extinguished upon impact and did not cause any damage to the Temple Ner Tamid, authorities said.
New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin said his office is helping local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies identify and apprehend the suspect, who in photos released by police was seen wearing a black ski mask, black pants and a black sweater that appears to feature a white skull and crossbones. The man is believed to be white.
Platkin cited recent acts of violence in Israel for amplifying concerns about copycat attacks. A gunman went on a shooting spree near an east Jerusalem synagogue on Friday night, killing seven people and wounding three others. That attack came a day after nine people were killed in an Israeli military raid in the West Bank. Two more people were shot in Jerusalem on Saturday, police said.
Platkin added that his office is also aware of an earlier attack Saturday on members of a church in Monmouth County, New Jersey, which he said is being investigated as being potentially bias-motivated. He did not identify the church or offer more detail.
“I want to reassure all New Jerseyans — especially our friends and neighbors of the Black community and the Jewish faith — that law enforcement continues to take the appropriate steps to increase our presence around sensitive places so that everyone in our state can worship, love, and live without fear of violence or threats,” he said in a statement.
The Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey asked anyone with information to come forward.
“We urge our leaders and community partners to speak out against this outrageous act and ask that all communities remain vigilant, though we have not been informed of any particular additional threats to Jewish institutions in New Jersey at this time,” the nonprofit said in a statement.