LAUDERHILL, FLA. (WSVN) - An investigation is underway after a police cruiser caught fire in front of a synagogue in Lauderhill.
The charred cruiser could be seen parked in the parking lot of Synagogue of Inverrary-Chabad, located at 6700 NW 44th St., just before midnight on Wednesday.
Lauderhill Police examined an Instagram video that showed what appeared to be a man splashing an accelerant of some kind on a Lauderhill Police car and setting it on fire.
The video, accompanied by a heavily digitized voice, also shows scenes of high profile police takedowns, like the one involving Eric Garner in 2014 and George Floyd in 2020.
Investigators said they believe the fire was intentionally set.
“He douses the vehicle from the back all the way through the front, and on the other side, and at that point he starts to light the vehicle,” said Lauderhill Police Sgt. Michael Santiago. “All we have, based on the video, is a male wearing a hoodie, dark colored hoodie, dark colored sweatpants, light colored sneakers. He appears to be tall and somewhat slender.”
“Clearly, he’s a deranged individual, and it’s important that he’s found and brought to justice,” said Rabbi Levi Chanowitz.
Police are looking at another video the person posted, showing a man, again, using some sort of accelerant to set fire to a veterans memorial in North Lauderdale in early December.
The city said the fire caused $7,500 in damage.
Just about six weeks later, this happens.
“Whatever the target was, the Jewish community or whether it was the police, it’s very disturbing and can’t be tolerated,” said Rabbi Dovid Schurder.
It’s a community constantly on guard. Someone walked up to the synagogue door just a few weeks ago and destroyed a sign.
After the fire, there is increased security and a sense of unease. The Rabbi said the mission of this congregation is the opposite of what took place.
“Our mission here is to spread acts of goodness and kindness, spread light around the world. I would suggest that he would get the help that he needs and hopefully find his mission in life, which is something that would be positive and not in the negative,” said Chanowitz.
An arson investigation is now underway.
Police said the cruiser was parked in front of the synagogue as a way to deter crime from happening at the house of worship.
Back on Jan. 4, police responded to the synagogue after it was vandalized. It remains unclear if both incidents are connected.
The cruiser has since been towed from the scene.
An organization that promotes security for houses of worship, temples and synagogues issued a release to other houses of worship saying they need to enhance their security protocols and described the incident that happened just to make sure that everyone is aware.
If you have any information on this act of arson or the arson in North Lauderdale, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward of up to $5,000.
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