(October 3, 2018 / JNS) A vandal who left an anti-Israel message last month at an Olney, Md., synagogue has been arrested.
A banner with the words “Justice for Palestinian people NOW!! Israel is a fascist apartheid state! … What will your legacy be? … Genocide?” hung outside the B’nai Shalom synagogue on Sept. 7, according to Montgomery County Police.
County police released digital images of the suspect through an internal department server. A patrol officer spotted a man five days later at an Olney bus stop who looked like the suspect. A search of that man’s backpack uncovered plastic lettering used on signboards.
Officers arrested the man, identified as 30-year-old Eric Sponaugle. Police said his home address is within a three-block radius of the synagogue.
“We take matters of security very seriously and are relieved to know that the police have arrested a suspect. The Montgomery County Police made this matter a priority and were both attentive and concerned,” B’nai Shalom executive director Monica Blum told JNS. “We feel fortunate to have them looking out for BSO and the greater community.”
It turns out that Sponaugle has also vandalized a nearby Chick-fil-A restaurant with homophobic messages such as “Can’t pray the gay away” and “Blood is on Your Hands.”
Sponaugle was charged with defacing religious property and malicious destruction of property. If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison and $11,000 in fines.